Saugus High School was placed on a soft lockdown in response to a report of a gunshot victim on Friday afternoon, and after deputies searched the campus, no evidence was found that a shooting had occurred and the incident was believed to be the result of a prank call.
At 1:23 p.m. a report was received of a gunshot wound victim at Saugus High School, according to L.A. County dispatch radio traffic. According to reports from the scene, after the campus search had been under way for some time, deputies alerted concerned parents outside the school that the call was likely “a prank call.”
For many at the school and in the community at large, the incident evoked chilling memories of the Nov. 14, 2019, shooting at Saugus High School in which a student killed Gracie Muehlberger, 15, and Dominic Blackwell, 14, before turning the gun on himself.
According to Ruben Munoz, a spokesman for the Los Angeles County Fire Department, firefighters were dispatched to the 21900 block of Centurion Way at 1:23 p.m. Friday in response to a report of a gunshot wound victim. They arrived on the scene at 1:30 p.m.
Munoz said that no victim had been located, but Fire remained staged on campus as a precaution while deputies searched. Munoz later confirmed that no transports had occurred and no victims were treated on the scene.
A loudspeaker announcement on the school system said the lockdown was a soft lockdown and no barricade was necessary, according to reports from the scene at the time.
Deputies went from building to building, clearing the campus.
There is currently no suspect information and description, according to Los Angeles County radio dispatch traffic.
Four nearby elementary schools — Rosedell Elementary School, James Foster Elementary School, Emblem Academy and Highlands Elementary School — were also placed on a soft lockdown, according to a school official.
Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s Capt. Justin Diez arrived on the scene at 2:06 p.m. and entered the school.
“With our call here, we got the call about 1:30 today, and that there was four students shot in the bathroom. We had a school resource deputy… on scene already when the call went out. In addition to that, we had most of the station here within minutes. Of course, we (also) had help from (California) Highway Patrol or aero bureau and then other resources from the department shortly thereafter,” said Diez. “We went building by building, bathroom by bathroom, room by room… We suspected it was a swatting call a little bit ago… We couldn’t rely on that. We still had to ensure that nothing had happened here.”
As far as what happens next, Diez said investigators will attempt to trace the original 9-1-1 call to determine its origin.
At the scene, a group of several parents waited outside of the school for updates from their children. When information was still scarce, parents were fearful of the worst.
Ron and Denise Marome’s oldest son, now 19, was a student at Saugus when the 2019 school shooting occurred. Their youngest, 16, was in the school as it was under a soft lockdown.
“It’s not OK. I don’t know what happened to our society that they think this OK,” said Ron. “The good news is we live in Santa Clarita and every fifth person that lives here is either a cop or a fireman. Everybody shows up quick.”
“It’s kind of hard for me to talk, I don’t know what to say. Something needs to be done to these people that are calling in and there’s like three schools, supposedly now,” said Denise, distraught and speaking through tears. “I’m so thankful for them all (law enforcement), they’re doing their job and they’re doing it well.”
Denise later said, “Thank God,” when law enforcement confirmed there was no threat and that no one was hurt.
“I understand how traumatic today’s incident is for all families – and especially for those with a memory of the tragedy in 2019,” wrote Mike Kuhlman, William S. Hart Union High School District superintendent, in an email statement. “We sincerely regret the fact that it takes time for law enforcement to complete their work. When the shock of this false alarm fades, I hope you can appreciate that the site and local law enforcement moved quickly and efficiently to respond in a way to ensure staff and student safety.”
A representative on behalf of the Hart district addressed a group of approximately 40 parents outside the school, telling them that all of the kids were safe and that the Sheriff’s Department had not found anything in the regards to the report.
“Multiple sites around the county appear to be receiving similar calls, believed to be the result of ‘swatting calls,’” said Deputy Natalie Arriaga, a spokeswoman for the SCV Sheriff’s Station.
Lancaster High School and the city of Industry Sheriff’s Station also received similar calls.
“It is with a mixture of relief and disgust that I can report that a false ‘swatting’ phone call was received earlier this afternoon reporting gunfire at Saugus High School,” wrote Kuhlman.
Saugus students, at the time of this publication, were being released from campus.
The situation was declared code 4 or “all clear” at 2:19 p.m.
“No evidence of a crime was found, nor any credible threats,” read a Nixle alert released by the Sheriff’s Department.
Deputies were still on the scene Friday afternoon conducting an investigation and Diez remained on the Saugus campus to answer questions from the media.
Anyone with information can contact the SCV Sheriff’s Station at 661-260-4000. Anonymous tips can be reported by calling LA Crime Stoppers at 800-222-TIPS (8477) or by visiting www.LACrimeStoppers.org.
Additional reporting by Trevor Morgan, Perry Smith and Christopher Torres.
This is a breaking news story and will be updated as more information becomes available.