Search for gunman yields assault victim instead at Van Ness Elementary

Los Angeles police officers guard an entrance to Van Ness Avenue Elementary School during an investigation of an incident Wednesday on campus.
(Howard Blume/Los Angeles Times)

Summer school classes operated normally Thursday at Van Ness Avenue Elementary the morning after police searched in vain for a reported gunman in the neighborhood and found instead an assault victim on the campus.

“Today, Van Ness Avenue Elementary School opened as usual, and all students are safe,” L.A. schools Supt. Michelle King said in a statement on Thursday.

Police had converged on the neighborhood around the Larchmont-area campus Wednesday afternoon after a report about a man with a gun in the school’s parking lot came in about 11:30 a.m. The report came from a campus volunteer, according to an officer at the scene. The volunteer then told a teacher, who informed school police.


L.A. Unified officers were managing the situation and did not immediately ask for help from their city counterparts, but events soon drew the LAPD to the campus.

Police cordoned off both ends of the block in front of the school, said a resident who lives in the neighborhood with his daughter.

The school also went on lockdown, with students held in place. The result was a slightly delayed dismissal, said district spokeswoman Barbara Jones.

Summer school hours are 8:30 a.m. to 12:50 p.m. at the school, where 317 students are taking classes in grades from pre-kindergarten through sixth.

No evidence of a gunman was found, but police remained at the scene.

An officer said the investigation had turned in an unrelated direction, but he declined to elaborate.

Late Wednesday night, police were still guarding the one entrance to campus that was not padlocked. A detective, a specialist in sexual assault cases, was called to the scene.


“Officers responded to a man with a gun call,” according to the statement provided by Capt. Andrew Neiman. “While at the scene, officers determined that an assault occurred against a school district employee.”

No information was immediately available on the condition of the victim or the circumstances leading to the assault.

Detectives still were conducting interviews at the school well past 11 p.m. Wednesday.

In her statement, King said the situation related to the assault did not involve students.

Times staff writer Richard Winton contributed to this report.

Twitter: @howardblume


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12:05 p.m.: This article was updated with new information from police about an unrelated assault victim found on campus.

This article was originally published at 11:27 p.m. July 13.