By Perry Smith and Katherine Quezada
William S. Hart Union High School District officials reported a lockdown at Canyon High School was lifted as of 2:09 p.m. Friday, after an investigation into a report of swatting on the Canyon Country campus.
Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s Station officials first received an alert regarding an incident around noon regarding allegations of a threatening phone call that deputies investigated for about a half-hour, according to station officials and witnesses.
“The lockdown has been lifted,” according to a statement from Debbie Dunn, the district’s communications coordinator, shortly after 2 p.m. “Law enforcement determined that it was a swatting call and there was no threat at any time to students or staff. Unfortunately, the time it took to check campus caused students to miss fifth- and sixth-period classes. Students are released to lunch or home at this time.”
The district provided parents and the media regular updates regarding the status of the investigation, which involved deputies searching every classroom on the campus one by one, according to witnesses.
But the nature of the dangerous prank calls left the situation uncertain early on for school staff, parents, students and law enforcement.
“Deputies are still trying to figure it out (what happened) due to the severity of the allegation,” said Lt. Luis Molina of the SCV Sheriff’s Station after the initial report, around 12:30 p.m. “I guarantee we have our best deputies and detectives working on that.”
A statement from the district noted the lockdown was due to a “swatting” call, which is when someone phones in a false threat to a location in an attempt to get SWAT teams and other law enforcement officials to respond.
“Law enforcement is investigating,” Dunn wrote after news of the lockdown spread around 12:30 p.m. “We have alerted parents and will provide more information as we have it.”
The station’s hourslong investigation of the incident led to a group of concerned parents waiting to pick up their children outside the campus.
Karen Teufert, whose son Nicholas Teufert is a ninth grader, had been waiting in front of the school since around 1 p.m.
“I texted my son immediately and didn’t hear from him, and then eventually he said that they were hiding under tables in math class,” she said Friday afternoon outside the school. “The teacher was with him and he didn’t know anything. I was the one telling him.
“Somebody was saying that those fake calls are, you know, dangerous because they have to act as if it were real. And then in the process, sometimes things can happen.”
“It’s not fair for the kids … to have to go through this. It’s traumatizing,” she added. “I feel for the parents — you can tell how tense we get.”
The Educator’s School Safety Network reports that, nationally, schools have seen a 546% increase in false reports between 2018-19 and 2022-23.