Deputies confirm gunfire near Sierra Vista; Schools ban attire associated with gangs

Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department deputies debrief after lifting a temporary lockdown near Sierra Vista Junior High School in Canyon Country on Thursday after receiving reports of possible gunfire in the nearby neighborhood. No gunshot wounds were reported and sheriff’s deputies reported no evidence has been found of shots being fired. Chris Torres/The Signal

Local law enforcement officials confirmed Friday that shots were in fact fired during the incident reported near Sierra Vista Junior High School on Thursday, although no shell casings have yet been found.  

And, the day after the off-campus gunfire, school officials notified parents that certain items of attire have been deemed to be associated with gang activity and are banned from campuses effective Monday. 

Although officials from the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Information Bureau initially said Thursday that no bullets had been thought to have been discharged from a weapon, the investigation ultimately yielded that “shots fired” had been confirmed, according to Deputy Natalie Arriaga, a spokeswoman for the Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s Station.   

“Shots fired are confirmed, despite no shell casings located,” Arriaga said Friday. “The motive is unclear at this time.” 

As a result of the incident that forced Canyon High School, as well as Sierra Vista Junior High School and Cedarcreek Elementary School, to go on temporary lockdown Thursday, Canyon Principal Shellie Holcombe sent an email to parents Friday informing them students would no longer be allowed to wear specified clothing associated with gang involvement while on either the Sierra Vista or Canyon campus.  

“In collaboration with local law enforcement, specific items of clothing and accessories have been identified by the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department that are affiliated with gangs,” Holcombe wrote. “With student safety being our top priority, coupled with the well-being of our community, the following items will be prohibited effective Monday, Feb. 14, 2022, at Canyon High School and Sierra Vista Junior High School.” 

The items, Holcombe wrote, that will no longer be allowed on either campus starting Monday include Boston Red Sox apparel, Brookyln Dodgers apparel, Detroit Tigers apparel and brown bandanas. The banned apparel includes hats bearing those team logos. 

The shooting was first reported shortly after 3:07 p.m. on Thursday around the southwest corner of the junior high school campus, at the intersection of Camp Plenty Road and Stillmore Street, according to Los Angeles County Fire Department officials.   

Dave Caldwell, a spokesman for the Hart district, confirmed to The Signal during the lockdown that no students on campus or campus staff at Sierra Vista were injured as a result of the incident. The junior high, as well as the nearby Canyon High School and Cedarcreek Elementary School, were placed on a temporary lockdown as a result of the incident, but district officials quickly confirmed no injuries occurred on the school site.  

“One of our vigilant staff members heard what appeared to be the sound of a gunshot outside the perimeter of the school near Sierra Vista,” said Kuhlman. “That staff member immediately alerted law enforcement (they were already on campus).”    

Although district officials expressed their belief that the event was an off-campus, gang-related occurrence, Arriaga reaffirmed on Friday that the Sheriff’s Department is still attempting to nail down a motive.  

Last month, a 17-year-old was taken to the hospital after suffering non-fatal bullet wounds during a drive-by shooting on the 19200 block of Newhouse Street, just a few blocks away from Thursday’s incident. 

“There have been reports of gang activity occurring within the area over the past couple weeks,” said Arriaga. “But as of now we do not have a clear motive yet.” 

Investigators reported Friday that no visible evidence exists that the shots had been fired, but they said they believed more than one round had been fired due to witnesses hearing the rounds go off.  

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