A school-shooting hoax prompted brief lockdowns Wednesday at a private Chula Vista high school and a nearby primary-school campus, with the threat occurring nearly simultaneously with similar reports that prompted searches of two other California high schools.
The bogus threat of campus gun violence at Mater Dei Catholic High School came via a call to the Chula Vista Police Department. from an out-of-state telephone number at about 1 p.m., CVPD Sgt. Anthony Molina said.
“The caller, who sounded like a male, said he was locked in a classroom with several other students and (that) there were others injured nearby,” Molina said. “He also reported seeing two men with rifles on campus.”
Authorities locked down the school just west of state Route 125 along with nearby Veterans Elementary while officers went to the campuses to check out the report.
“Coincidentally, a Chula Vista police officer was working on reports in a Mater Dei campus parking lot when the call was received,” the sergeant said. “He was able to advise responding officers that the campus appeared to be operating as usual, with students still casually moving about the campus.”
After officers — including one operating a camera-equipped flying drone — checked out the classrooms and grounds of the high school, finding no threats, authorities lifted the lockdowns, which had been in effect for about an hour.
“Having direct communication with school staff, officers learned the room number mentioned by the caller did not exist,” Molina said.
Several similar shooting threats took place in other parts of California at about the same time as the campus gun scare in Chula Vista.
A telephone call reporting a possible gunman on the campus of Lancaster High School in northern Los Angeles County shortly before 1 p.m. prompted a massive sheriff’s department response and lockdown, but no evidence of gunfire or a shooter was found.
Bishop Diego High School in Santa Barbara also was locked down in the early afternoon in response to what police called a “false report of an active shooter.” No evidence of a perpetrator or weapon was found at that campus, and police said the “false report is under investigation.”
On Tuesday morning, a false report of shots being fired at Hollywood High School led to a massive response by the Los Angeles Police Department, but that one also turned out to be bogus.
There was no immediate indication of whether the various threats were related.
Updated at 5:27 p.m. September 14, 2022