Miramonte High School's Newspaper

The Mirador

Miramonte High School's Newspaper

The Mirador

Miramonte High School's Newspaper

The Mirador

Violent Threat Forces Lockdown, Spurs Student Concern

Connor Dong

Miramonte administrators initiated a lockdown April 22 at 2:30 PM after an individual threatened to come to campus with a weapon. The lockdown was lifted at 3:20 P.M. after the Orinda Police Department (OPD) determined the threat to be a “hoax,” principal Ben Campopiano said in an email to students and parents.

The individual, who gave their name (withheld from The Mirador), called the front office, after which first responders were immediately notified. The caller remained on the line until after authorities arrived a few minutes later. Active shooter protocols were enacted with emergency responders, but because the threat did not originate from campus, nor did the caller claim to be on campus, a “Run, Hide, Defend” scenario was not initiated.

Miramonte students were told to enter the nearest classroom while teachers locked doors and closed window shades. One student, sophomore James Giquinto, hid in a bathroom stall before being escorted out by police.

“I wasn’t mortified; I was just in shock. In my mind, I was thinking there was no way this was actually real,” Giquinto said. Police eventually found Giquinto and told him “to identify [himself] and to come out with [his] hands up.”

Upon arrival, OPD Chief Ryan Sullivan spoke with the caller and took charge of the lockdown. Administrators instructed both parents and students to keep phone lines clear in order to allow staff to communicate information over the PA system. After clearing the campus at 3:20, authorities stationed themselves around campus exits to monitor the dismissal of students and staff. Upon release, students were told to leave campus as soon as possible, and all after-school activities were canceled. Parents were told not to come to campus and barred from turning south onto Ivy Drive. Police cleared the Moraga/Ivy intersection to allow for a quick student exit.

That afternoon, at least three other high schools in California received violent threats including Gunn High School, Palo Alto; La Cañada High School, La Cañada; and Troy High School, Fullerton. Authorities deemed each threat to be not credible. OPD is investigating the link between the incident at Miramonte and those at other state high schools, as well as any possible links to prior threats received by several East Bay school districts on April 17.

Connor Dong

Those who make hoax threats to schools can face between one and five years in local, state, or federal prison, depending on the extent to which and at what level prosecution occurs. They can also be forced to pay the cost of the police response and a fine of $10,000. Punishments are more severe for repeat offenders.

The events of April 22 prompted several students to report about potentially unsafe lockdown procedures. Giquinto felt endangered by the lack of a PA system in bathrooms.“If I didn’t have my phone and this was a real event, I would not have known to lock down,” Giquinto said. 

During March’s evacuation drill, the school analyzed the audibility of PA announcements and identified several zones with minimal coverage, which became a prominent concern among students on Monday. During the lockdown, blinds were either not present or not closeable in some classrooms, prompting students and teachers to adapt to the urgent circumstance. In one classroom, students hid in an adjoining closet. Administrators reported that they are working with the district to fix these issues as quickly as possible. Incident and witness reports can be filed at the front office and are being reviewed by the District.

Several students also reported instructors opting to continue teaching despite the lockdown. According to Administration, teachers should take maximum precautions immediately after a lockdown is called. This includes turning off lights, closing blinds and windows, and remaining silent. However, some teachers reported confusion around the severity of the event and the associated procedures. Communications to teachers will then indicate if the threat and associated precautions can be downgraded.

Administration hopes to provide more detailed instructions on lockdown procedures to staff and parents especially, to streamline future lockdowns and hasten communication with staff, students, and parents.

Junior Angel Godinez reflected upon his experience with the lockdown and — like many students — expressed frustration at the situation. “I don’t understand why people would [make threats] to random high schools. There are a bunch of messed up people in the world, but I don’t know what motives they have,” Godinez said. “Why take [personal issues] out on innocent kids?”

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About the Contributor
Jason Wagner
Jason Wagner, Editor-in-Chief
I am one of the Editors-in-Chief, and this is my fourth year in the journalism program. I love writing and editing opinion articles (I was an opinion editor before this) because they give a chance for typical students to voice their opinions on issues that matter to them, and have that opinion published in writing.
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