Report of gun prompts school lockdowns

March 18, 2009 12:10:07 PM PDT
Police say a report of a student with a gun on campus Wednesday morning appears to have been unfounded.

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The school was letting parents onto the campus around 11:30 a.m. to pick up their students but district officials said classes would remain in session and that students were encouraged to stay at school.

Sgt. Art Sweeney said Rohnert Park police received a transfer call from the California Highway Patrol dispatch center in Vallejo at 9:12 a.m.

The caller had told a CHP dispatcher that a male student was in a bathroom on the high school campus with a gun.

Cell phone 911 calls are sometimes routed to the Vallejo CHP center, which then forwards the calls to local police. However, when the CHP transferred the call to Rohnert Park police, it was dropped, Sweeney said.

Sweeney said the call was made from a pay-as-you-go cell phone, preventing authorities from tracing it.

Rohnert Park treated the report as credible and immediately contacted the high school, which was placed on lockdown around 9:15 a.m., Sweeney said.

A swarm of officers responded, searching the campus bathrooms, Sweeney said. No gun was found.

Shortly before 11 a.m., the school remained on lockdown and a secondary search was under way by two five-person teams, police said. Some parents waiting outside the school for an update on the situation were emotional.

Dan Karlstad, whose 13-year-old daughter is a freshman at the school, was upset police hadn't searched classrooms in addition to the bathrooms.

"I don't want my daughter wandering around in there when there might be a gun," Karlstad said. "They have not searched everywhere."

Connie Skelton, whose son and daughter attend Rancho Cotate, said her daughter, who is a sophomore, told her via text message there was a rumor circulating among students earlier this morning that someone had committed suicide in a bathroom.

Skelton said the California High School Exit Exam is being administered at the school today and speculated that the test may have been related to the 911 call.

"It sounds like someone didn't want to take the test," she said.

Cotati-Rohnert Park Unified School District Superintendent Barbara Vrankovich confirmed that the exit exam was being administered at the school Tuesday and Wednesday.

She said the district is reporting to the state that there was a testing irregularity. It was unclear whether and when the test would be readministered.

Cross & Crown Lutheran School for kindergarteners and preschoolers at 5475 Snyder Lane was also placed on lockdown Wednesday morning, an administrative worker there said.

She said police called around 9:30 a.m. and told teachers to lock the students inside.

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