An anonymous email threatening a shooting at Barstow Junior High School has prompted an ongoing police investigation and enhanced security measures on campus.
Police increased their presence at the campus for seventh- and eighth-grade students Tuesday morning as investigators continued searching for the source of the email, which was sent to a Barstow Unified School District staff member but issued a general threat rather than one targeted at the employee.
Parents received an automated call from BUSD late Monday afternoon “about a threatening email sent to Barstow Junior High School today,” according to a recording that a parent provided the Daily Press.
The call stated that “the district is collaborating extensively with the Barstow Police Department and has not found any credibility in the email threat,” though it added that “there will be a increased police presence throughout the campus until the problem is solved.”
Barstow Police Captain Chris Kirby told the Daily Press his department got a call at about 6:51 a.m. Monday “regarding a threat of a possible shooting” received by a BUSD employee.
“Officers responded to Barstow Junior High School to investigate the threat and provide security for the campus and the surrounding areas,” Kirby said in an email, adding that six officers were deployed to the campus on top of BPD’s usual volume of school resource officers.
“Detective Franklin was assigned this investigation and is working to identify the source of the message,” Kirby said. “The school was not locked down as a result of this incident.”
BUSD spokesperson Marseilles Chavez said that “classes were carried out as normal and no lockdown of the campus or individual classrooms was issued” on Monday.
Yet, the parent who provided the recording says her son offered a contradictory account.
“Yesterday, he came home and he told me, ‘Mom, school was on lockdown first period and the teachers were telling us no students are to answer the doors. Only the teachers are allowed to,’” said the parent, who asked to remain anonymous. “I was like, oh, that’s kind of weird. And then I got the message and was like, oh, so there is someone out there.”
A group that appeared to comprise a few dozen Barstow Junior High students were standing in a line outside of the school’s main building, on the outdoor basketball court near the southern end of campus, at about 8:30 a.m. Tuesday. The students did not appear to be engaged in a class activity at the time.
Chavez said that the threatening email “claimed violence would occur on Monday,” a claim that did not come to fruition.
Despite that, the murky nature of the situation is leading some parents to keep their kids home for the time being.
“They said they haven’t even caught the person,” the parent who spoke to the Daily Press said Tuesday. “So I said, ‘You’re not going to school today.’”
This isn't the first event to spark gun-related fears in a BUSD school within the last month.
Barstow High School employees found “a loaded firearm” that a student allegedly brought to a campus the morning of Nov. 8, a Monday, the Daily Press reported. Kirby said the student, identified only as a juvenile male, fled campus before officers arrived that day and was arrested three days later at the 1200 Block of Center Street in Barstow.
Charlie McGee covers the city of Barstow and its surrounding communities for the Daily Press. He is also a Report for America corps member with the GroundTruth Project, an independent, nonpartisan, nonprofit news organization dedicated to supporting the next generation of journalists in the U.S. and around the world. McGee may be reached at 760-955-5341 or email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @bycharliemcgee.
This article originally appeared on Victorville Daily Press: Anonymous shooting threat prompts bolstered policing at Barstow Junior High School; investigation ongoing