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Student who threatened Moorpark High commits suicide on train tracks

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This post has been updated. See the note below for details.

A 16-year-old student who threatened violence at Moorpark High School on Thursday morning, prompting a lockdown and campus evacuation, later committed suicide by stepping in front of an Amtrak train, authorities said.

The high school was locked down shortly after 8 a.m. after someone found a note the student had left on campus, said Ventura County Sheriff's Sgt. Eric Buschow. Buschow did not detail what was written in the signed note but said it prompted an "all hands on deck" response.

About 70 deputies -- including a bomb squad and K-9 unit -- raced to the campus, which was immediately locked down after the note was reported to school officials, authorities said. The deputies then began searching the high school for the student, Buschow said.

"I'll tell you this: If somebody is suicidal, we're not going to send 70 law enforcement officers to the school," Buschow said. "There were specific things stated that this person intended to do and clearly it appears he reached a pivotal moment where he decided to take his own life rather than involve some great incident.... The note indicted something much more severe at the school."

It wasn't until about 40 minutes later that deputies learned a person had been hit by the Amtrak train on tracks not far from the school, Buschow said.

Ventura County firefighters responded to the 10900 block of West Los Angeles Avenue at 9:07 a.m. after a report of a person struck by a train, Capt. Mike Lindbery said. Firefighters at first had trouble locating the body but later discovered it behind a row of businesses, he added.

The teenager was pronounced dead at the scene.

Deputies continued to search the school as a precaution. They eventually swept it twice, as students were sent home for the day.

"Even though we had some suspicion that the person hit by the train was our suspect, we didn't have confirmation," he said.

No explosives, weapons or other dangerous items were found, authorities said.

Investigators plan to speak to the teenager's family and friends and look at the case "from all angles," Buschow said. The sergeant said the initial information indicates the student acted alone.

The Moorpark Unified School District was expected to release a statement Thursday evening. Sheriff's officials said classes would resume Friday -- the final day before the winter holiday -- with grief counselors and extra sheriff's deputies on hand.

[Updated, 4:51 p.m. PST, Dec. 19: In a statement issued Thursday evening, school district officials thanked school and law enforcement officials for their “swift and comprehensive response."

District officials also expressed “deepest sympathies” to the family and friends of the student.

“There are no words to adequately express our sorrow upon learning that one of our students took his life today,” the statement read. “We are deeply saddened as we all try to understand the events that led to this tragedy.”

The district noted counselors would be available not just Friday, but during the two-week winter vacation. Contact information for such services would be posted on its website, the statement said.]

Buschow called it a "horrible, horrible situation all the way around." But, he noted, the outcome could have been vastly different.

"It's still tragic that he took his own life. But it's good that he didn't carry out these other threats," he said. "It could have been much, much worse today."

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