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Rumors Cause Panic at Rio Mesa Campus

SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

Hundreds of Rio Mesa High School students skipped classes Tuesday after rumors spread that an attack was planned.

School officials had received no threats, but they said nearly 300 students went home.

At least an equal number may have stayed home from school after rumors of the terrorist attack started Monday, Principal Barry Barowitz said. He expected to receive attendance figures today.

It wasn’t clear whether the rumors were linked to the arrest nearly two weeks ago of a 20-year-old Oxnard man who allegedly told a Rio Mesa student in an Internet chat room that he planned to shoot up the 2,400-student campus.

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Last week, two were killed and 13 injured in a school shooting in Santee.

“Given the current mood and the state of mind in this country, it’s not surprising,” Barowitz said.

Five sheriff’s deputies were posted on the campus Tuesday.

Despite the extra security, anxious parents stood 50 deep in the attendance office filling out paperwork to remove their children from school.

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“I’m playing it on the safe side with all the stuff going on in schools today,” said Dee Dee Sanchez, while she waited for daughter Melissa, 14, to be pulled from class.

Many students who stayed in school said the rumors were just talk.

“I’m only a little worried, not enough to take it seriously, junior Victor Solorio said.”


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