Water gun cause for soft lockdown at La Mesa Junior High

Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department seal. File Photo
Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department seal. File Photo

La Mesa Junior High School went on a soft lockdown Thursday morning when an anonymous call came in about a possible weapon onboard one of the school buses headed toward the junior high campus, according to Los Angeles County sheriff’s officials. Deputies eventually found an orange water gun and nothing else. 

Deputy Natalie Arriaga, a spokeswoman for the Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s Station, told The Signal that the call came in around 8:10 a.m. with a report of a boy possibly throwing a firearm into the bushes. 

“Deputies were able to come in contact and detain the bus on Jakes Way and Sierra Highway,” Arriaga said, “and they didn’t find any kids on there matching a potential suspect description.” 

In a message sent out to La Mesa families, Dave Caldwell, a spokesman for the William S. Hart Union High School District, wrote, “Out of an abundance of caution, the school was placed on a soft lockdown, and we are working with the city of Santa Clarita and the Sheriff’s Department to ensure everyone’s safety.” 

Arriaga said the soft lockdown was necessary because no one knew if the alleged suspect was heading toward the school with a firearm. 

“Deputies continued to search the area and were able to locate kids matching as a potential suspect description walking toward the school,” Arriaga continued. “They detained them, conducted the search. No contraband was located. They conducted a search of the area. They didn’t locate a firearm, but they did locate an orange squirt water gun.” 

Arriaga added that no arrest was made, no suspects are outstanding and no further investigation is necessary. 

“They’ve conducted a search of the area,” she said, “and there is no firearm.” 

After releasing the soft lockdown of La Mesa Junior High, Caldwell sent a follow-up message to school families, stating, “Our safety protocols and our close collaboration with law enforcement worked as they should in this situation. As a reminder to our families, if you see or hear anything that makes you uncomfortable, we encourage you to report the information as soon as possible to school and law enforcement officials. We act on every report as part of our continued commitment to ensure the safety and well-being of our students.” 

Caldwell added that parents should speak with their children about the seriousness of making good decisions regarding anything that could cause concern for the safety of others. 

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