Unknown caller feigning threat to Huntington Beach High campus triggers lockdown

Huntington Beach High School seen Friday, July 17, 2020.
Huntington Beach High School officials issued a shelter-in-place order Monday, after city police received a call about an incident happening on campus that was later determined to be a hoax.
(File Photo)

Students and staff at Huntington Beach High School returned to business as usual Tuesday, after a potential threat called into the local police department Monday caused a temporary lockdown of the campus.

Huntington Beach Police Department spokeswoman Jessica Cuchilla confirmed a call came in Monday at 1:50 p.m. from an unknown person, who said they were physically on the campus.

“They were saying there was an incident going on at the school and police needed to respond,” Cuchilla said Tuesday. “The school went into a lockdown, which lasted about 30 minutes.”

While students and teachers sheltered in place, officers performed a sweep of the school grounds but did not locate any suspects. Cuchilla said the call was ultimately determined to be a hoax and the lockdown was lifted.

An email sent out to the Huntington Beach High community from Principal Daniel Morris following the incident provided a few more details about the nature of the threat called into police.

“The phone call, which was later determined [to be] a prank, stated that the caller was in a bathroom on campus and threatened violence,” Morris wrote in the message, which went out at 3:55 p.m.

“HBPD was on campus and swept and cleared the restrooms and common areas,” he continued. “The threat was determined not credible, and the shelter-in-place was lifted.”

In a statement issued Tuesday, Huntington Beach Union High School District officials recounted events assuring that, although the validity of the call had not been substantiated, school staff moved swiftly to ensure everyone remained safe.

The lockdown began at 12:49 p.m. and was lifted at 1:22 p.m. when police determined the suspect was no longer on campus, said Golden West College spokeswoman Andrea Rangno.

“Student and staff safety is of the utmost priority to HBUHSD,” the statement read. “We express our appreciation to HBHS staff and the HBPD for acting swiftly and ensuring the safety of those on campus.”

The incident comes one week after a March 20 lockdown at Golden West College, during which police searched the Huntington Beach campus for a man whom students had earlier reported seeing in possession of a firearm.

Cuchilla said detectives did not yet have any substantial leads on where the call may have originated. Anyone with information related to Monday’s incident at Huntington Beach High School is asked to call HBPD’s We Tip Hotline at (714) 375-5066. Anonymous tips may be called into OC Crime Stoppers at (855) TIP-OCCS (847-6227).

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