Miramonte Community Recovers After Lockdown


Maddie Alvarado, Staff Writer

Miramonte High School and Del Rey Elementary School both went into lockdown around 12 pm on Wednesday because of reports of a suspicious man, possibly wielding a gun, in the area. The individual was never found. Both schools were in lockdown for about an hour before police deemed that it was safe to allow a return to normal activities.

Police received a call at 11:48 stating that a first grader at Del Rey reported to his teacher that he had seen a male wearing blue clothing with red or orange hair walking in the creekbed on campus carrying a gun. Police dispatched several Orinda officers, as well as one officer from Moraga and one from Lafayette. They also utilized a helicopter to search for the individual from above.

Police conducted a ground and room to room search at Del Rey to make sure no one was hiding in classrooms. The suspected individual was not found. After checking to make sure everyone was accounted for, police lifted the lockdown.

“Going on what we were told, certainly the most serious issue is somebody with a gun and that kind of dictates the response,” said Officer Mark Nagal. “The protocol is that we would arrive, secure and make a perimeter of the area, then try to locate and identify the person, and assess the situation to see if in fact that’s what we have. Of course, we were never able to even find the person, but we still had diligence and conducted a thorough search just to eliminate that possibility.”

Miramonte went into lockdown at about 12 after a Miramonte teacher received a text from his wife, who works at Del Rey, saying that they had gone into lockdown. Associate Principal Jan Carlson was notified of this and went over the PA system to tell students and staff to take measures to lock down the school. The doors were locked, windows closed, and blinds shut. Students were instructed to go to their fourth period classes or the nearest classroom. According to Carlson, all students and staff were inside in about seven minutes.

“Our teachers, as soon as they heard there was a lockdown, immediately got students out of the quad, because the students had just been released for lunch. The teachers got them into classrooms while the lockdown drill notification was going out on the loudspeaker and we were going on the PA to ask everyone to get into classrooms,” Associate Principal Jan Carlson said.

Students in the gym watching the dodgeball games during lunch remained there, and continued to play dodgeball.

Although the individual was never found, the lockdown provided a simulation for students of what an actual lockdown would be like, which was more effective than any drill could be. It also revealed some holes in the communication between Del Rey, Miramonte, and nearby Orinda Intermediate School for situations like this. OIS did not go into lockdown when Del Rey and Miramonte did.

“Out of courtesy we often times notify each other. In this case we were not notified,” Carlson said. “We immediately notified our district office who could be in touch with other districts.”

Following this event, hopefully these schools will try to work out some sort of protocol to contact each other in case another situation like this arises. The Miramonte administration has taken further measures to try to figure out what worked and what didn’t during the lockdown. Today at 12:57 Principal Julie Parks sent out an email asking students for feedback about how the lockdown went.

“I think the most important thing is that we are prepared for a lockdown and what I want to stress is that students did the right thing; they tried to get to their fourth period class if they could, if they couldn’t they went into the nearest classroom and within about 7 minutes every student and staff member was in a classroom,” Carlson said. “So I am so grateful for the staff members who moved so quickly and the students who took it so seriously to get into classrooms and cooperate with what their teachers were asking, which was often times to sit under a desk, be on the floor, or be quiet, and they complied just beautifully.”

Del Rey students received similar praise from their staff.

“The students were great. They do practice drills at school, whether it’s earthquake, stranger on campus, or fire drills, “said 5th grade teacher’s assistant Kristen Fenn. “The students knew exactly want to do, they were very calm, and it’s hard to ask 5th graders to sit still for that long but they were fantastic.”