Standard elementary and middle schools in Oildale were locked down Friday morning after reports of a gunman on campus, but a massive law enforcement search turned up nothing, officials said.
Kern County sheriff's deputies and California Highway Patrol officers, many of them with shotguns and assault weapons drawn, swarmed the campuses but found no threat.
Dozens of parents, some frantically trying to contact their children or get more information from authorities, showed up at the school after the lockdown began at about 9:50 a.m.
“I want my kids out,” Shannon Brewer said of her three children who attend Standard. “I’m worried about them.”
The lockdown was lifted and students were beginning to be released shortly after 11:30 a.m. Principal Jason Hodgson said parents had the option of taking their children home or finishing out the school day.
Sharon Diaz chose the former for her granddaughter, Kylee Fullmore. Diaz said Friday’s lockdown, along with a few others recently that came about because of robberies or other crimes in the general area, have her on edge.
“Who would want to stay after this?” Diaz said of the most recent lockdown.
Fullmore, an eighth-grader, said she had attended an assembly in the auditorium and had gone back to class when they were placed on lockdown.
She said she was scared because she didn’t know what exactly was happening.
Martin Hanson, another eighth-grader, felt the same way.
“I saw there were cops around with guns and that made everyone more nervous,” he said.
Hanson’s mother, Diana Medlen, was taking her son home and also dropping off another student. When she first arrived she’d heard rumors about a gunman and even that someone was shot, but deputies told her no one had been injured.
Senior Deputy Victor Keesey said the sheriff’s office dispatch center received a call at 9:48 a.m. from an unidentified male who reported seeing a man walk into the school auditorium armed with a gun. A lockdown was initiated and deputies began a classroom by classroom search of the schools.
Neither a suspect nor a gun was found, Keesey said.
The senior deputy was unaware of what else was said and it would be premature to say whether the caller made a prank call. Keesey said they don’t know exactly what the reporting person saw or thought he saw.
Keesey said the person called 911 from a cell phone and the call is traceable.
Community vigilance in reporting suspicious behavior on school campuses has increased since the fatal shootings of 20 students and six adults at a school in Newtown, Conn., and more recently and locally, the wounding of a Taft Union High School student on that campus.
There have been several local school lockdowns that have proved to be the result of false alarms.