When I arrived a little late to work today, because I had to go pick up a trophy from Sparks for Mrs. Hanson, I was greeted by a huge commotion: the entire student population was lined up for blocks, police had blocked off streets, and school administrators were checking every car coming into the parking lot. As I made my way toward the main gate, with a huge trophy in hand, the police stopped to question who I was and what I was doing with such a big object. Luckily, Mr. Webster, who was nearby checking students’ backpacks, recognized me and let me go through.
Needless to say, the first period AVID class was mostly empty; everyone was still being let in. The students were instructed to stay in their first period classroom until further notice. Because it wouldn’t have been helpful for Richard and I to conduct tutorials with just a handful of students, he and I went up to Mrs. Hanson’s room to do some grading. On our way there, we noticed that a helicopter had arrived, and there were many district office workers roaming the campus. I overheard one of them tell a student that district administrators had sent them. No one, not even the teachers, really knew what was going on. Rumors were flying around rampantly. While I tried to take a few pictures and video, one of the district guys (I think he’s the head of the IT department) asked if we could please stay inside the classroom.
The bell signaling the end of first period finally rang at about 9:30. As the second period kids came in, they told stories of how bomb and gun threats had been made against the school, but none of them knew for sure what was going. We tried to get through tutorials as normally as we could, but our whole schedule had been thrown off, and there was too much buzz in the room. It wasn’t until third period when the students suggested we turn on the TV to see if there was any news on. Sure enough, Leo Stallman of ABC (Channel 7) was outside the school giving a report, but he wasn’t able to give any new or concrete information. The kids (as well as I) were half excited that their school was being showcased on TV and half scared that they didn’t really know what was happening. Many of them were complaining about how “stupid” the search was, but Mrs. Hanson explained to them how necessary precautions were being taken to make sure that something like the Columbine or Virginia Tech incidents don’t happen here.
At this time, I still don’t know what really happened. The school police held a press conference earlier this afternoon, but they didn’t say much, though they announced that school will be closed tomorrow. A few news agencies picked up on the occurrence, but they also have nothing new to add:
UPDATE: A Wilson student was arrested this morning in connection to two threats that he made on Wikipedia to which he confessed. Also, the event has received much more attention from the media and blogosphere. A Google search for Wilson Hacienda Heights threat led to a few good articles, one of the better ones being from the Los Angeles Times. Another blogger smartly searched the Wikipedia archives to see what kind of threats the arrested student made and to see to whom those threats were directed. (I unfortunately know a few of them.) On one of the articles I read, a reader commented on how the media failed to recognize that it was Wikipedia users that alerted the police to the threat.
Luckily, no one was harmed. We’re still waiting to see who this kid was, though, and if his threats were real or if he was playing some sort of sick joke.