Students at Del Norte High School have been through their semiannual lockdown drills, but Principal Bryan Schultz’s voice told them this one was different.
Schultz said he was frustrated and angry that people wreaking havoc in schools continues.
“These things are not supposed to happen at schools, you know, and it’s just drives me nuts that things like this continue to happen,” the principal said, standing outside the school after police left on Thursday.
For two hours the 2,600 students and 200 staff members remained in lockdown on the Poway Unified School District campus, silent as law enforcement investigated a phoned in threat of a shooting at the school.
An unknown person made the telephone threat against the school via a call to the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department in the early afternoon, said Ryan Wisniewski, a lieutenant with the department.
The menacing statements were delivered in a “robotic-” sounding, computer generated-style voice, according to the San Diego Police Department.
Police officers and sheriff’s deputies took up positions at the campuses and searched them along with surrounding areas by ground and aboard patrol helicopters.
Fortunately, nothing came of the threat, but with raw nerves and fear following Tuesday’s massacre at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, made for a nervous time Thursday for parents, some in tears, waiting outside while children hunkered down inside.
Nineteen students and two teachers died in a shooting rampage at the elementary school, 85 miles west of San Antonio.
“All the kids are safe,” he said. “All of this is out of an abundance of caution. … There are no reports of anybody with a weapon, nobody walking around on campus who is not supposed to be there,” said police Lt. Adam Sharki.
The threat prompted lockdowns at the high school just west of 4S Ranch Parkway, as well as at nearby Del Sur, Design39Campus and Stone Ranch elementary schools; Oak Valley Middle School; and Maranatha Christian Schools, a preschool-through-12th-grade campus off Camino del Sur until the all-clear signal was given at 2 p.m.
Staff members, some with a tears in their eye, were seen hugging each other, expressing relief that everyone was fine as they walked to their cars.
“Obviously, it’s a challenging week for everybody in this profession,” Principal Schultz said.
Tuesday’s shooting tragedy has weighed heavily on staff and students, he said.
Thursday was the first time the school had a actual lockdown in his four-year tenure at the school.
“It’s unfortunate that somebody somewhere continues to create havoc amongst our schools, which is a place of refuge for students,” Schultz said.
“It’s a place of learning, it’s a place that we want to be safe and keep our students and our staff safe,” he said. “Our parents entrust us with their students’ well being and we take that very seriously and do everything that we can our power to make sure that our students are safe and secure, as well as our staff.”
Students and staff followed lockdown school protocol well , he said, which is a testament that drills and discussions about the topic work.
They did a good job of staying locked down and staying quiet, staying off of their devices, so that those could be open for communication for law enforcement, Schultz said.
“I had the opportunity to go on our intercom system periodically to just encourage them that it’s going to be okay, and everything is fine,” he said.
Schultz said there is a concept of “Home Court Advantage” at the school, where the message is supporting each other and speaking up if something doesn’t seem right.
“It was great to see the kids walking out, you know, with smiles on their faces, and knowing that they were safe,” he said.
Students expressed gratitude to the principal as they left to join their parents.
Police and sheriff’s personnel will continue to investigate the threats to try to determine who is responsible, and there will be extra personnel at the six campuses as a precaution on Friday, according to the SDPD.
— City News Service contributed to this report.
Updated at 7 p.m. May 26, 2022