Pixel Tracker

Tuesday, December 11 , 2018, 12:03 am | Fair 46º

 
 
 
 

Righetti, St. Joseph’s High School Lockdowns Lifted After Rumor of Weapon on Campus

Atascadero police identify, arrest student allegedly responsible for social media post threatening a shooting

With rain falling, parents wait to check their students out of Righetti High School in Orcutt after a lockdown on Wednesday. Click to view larger
With rain falling, parents wait to check their students out of Righetti High School in Orcutt after a lockdown on Wednesday. (Janene Scully / Noozhawk photo)

An anonymous threat of a weapon on campus prompted a lockdown at Righetti High School and nearby St. Joseph High School in Orcutt Wednesday morning before being lifted two hours later.

Several Righetti High School students received an anonymous text warning of a weapon on campus and notified staff, Santa Maria Joint Union High School District spokesman Kenny Klein said in an emailed statement.

"It is our understanding that several high schools on the Central Coast received similar threats, regardless we take all of these threats seriously and investigate them fully," he said.

The Santa Barbara County Sheriff's Department was notified at 9:30 a.m. Wednesday and authorities locked down Righetti High School and St. Joseph's High School while they investigated the threat, and additional law enforcement personnel were assigned to the campuses, spokeswoman Kelly Hoover said.

"The threat was determined to be an unrelated social media threat which had been investigated by the Atascadero Police Department earlier this morning," Hoover said, adding that police identified and arrested the student responsible for the threat.

"Once the threat was determined to be unrelated to Righetti and St. Joseph High Schools the lockdown was lifted just before 11:30 a.m. this morning," she said. 

In addition to sheriff's deputies, California Highway Patrol and Santa Maria police officers were at the campus.

Parents and other relatives of Righetti High School students await the end of a lockdown at the Orcutt campus on Wednesday morning. Click to view larger
Parents and other relatives of Righetti High School students await the end of a lockdown at the Orcutt campus on Wednesday morning. (Janene Scully / Noozhawk photo)

A social media post circulating among the Righetti community said, "Im shooting up the school tomorrow during the walkout. Are you? Im going to enjoy every scream and every tear. Are you? We are NOT going to stop. We are NOT going to give up. We will NOT stop till every living thing on the campus is dead."

The post did not specify a campus.

Some Righetti High School parents went to the campus when they were notified of the lockdown, hoping for news and texting or calling their students inside. 

As one woman talked to a student via cell phone, she told a school official to "Shut up," saying she was concerned for her daughter.

"I'm concerned about all of the students," Assistant Principal Gene Rickman told her.

She later urged the girl to leave during the lockdown, saying the school officials could not hold forcefully detain the students and threatening to sue if they did.

"I need you to please ask your daughter to shelter in place," Rickman told the woman.

After the lockdown was lifted, the line of parents waiting to check thier students out of Righetti High School extended around the administration building on Wednesday. Click to view larger
After the lockdown was lifted, the line of parents waiting to check thier students out of Righetti High School extended around the administration building on Wednesday.  (Janene Scully / Noozhawk photo)

Many waited in line to pick up their children, although an announcement over the school speakers said the school day would resume after the lockdown was lifted. 

Approximately 150 students were pulled from school after the lockdown, district officials said. The campus has 2,300 ninth-graders through 12th-graders.

After the lockdown ended, one student said he hid in a closet during the incident. 

Another girl said students in her classroom turned off the lights and barricaded the doors — "nothing much," senior Jackie Lopez said.

"We just sat there calmly. We tried not to panic," she added.

In northern San Luis Obispo County, all Atascadero Unified School District campuses went on lockdown Wednesday morning, which was lifted at 10:40 a.m., after a shooting threat was posted on social media — the same threat that prompted the Santa Maria-area lockdowns. 

Atascadero police identified the student who posted the threats and took him into custody, the San Luis Obispo Tribune reported. 

A Righetti High School student released from a lockdown is all smiles as she leaves campus on Wednesday afternoon. Click to view larger
A Righetti High School student released from a lockdown is all smiles as she leaves campus on Wednesday afternoon. (Janene Scully / Noozhawk photo)

​Both lockdowns disrupted plans for student-led National School Walkout movements to protest gun violence. 

Just before 10 a.m., a Righettii official announced over the loud speaker system that the planned walkout would not happen and representatives turned away media showing up to cover the event.

"Students and staff on campus, we will be going into lockdown. Shelter in place until further notification. Do not let students out of their classrooms until further notice," the announcement said. "The march is canceled."

Organizers of the Righetti High School event conducted a rally at the school amphitheater during their lunch period after the lockdown, a district spokesman said.

Students all over Santa Barbara County — and the country — walked out of class Wednesday morning and organized speeches, moments of silence, and marches on the day one month after the Parkland, Florida school shooting. 

Noozhawk North County editor Janene Scully can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

An assortment of law enforcement officers converged upon Righetti HIgh School in Orcutt as the campus was placed on lockdown due to reported threat on Wednesday. Click to view larger
An assortment of law enforcement officers converged upon Righetti HIgh School in Orcutt as the campus was placed on lockdown due to reported threat on Wednesday. (Janene Scully / Noozhawk photo)

Support Noozhawk Today

You are an important ally in our mission to deliver clear, objective, high-quality professional news reporting for Santa Barbara, Goleta and the rest of Santa Barbara County. Join the Hawks Club today to help keep Noozhawk soaring.

We offer four membership levels: $5 a month, $10 a month, $25 a month or $1 a week. Payments can be made using a credit card, Apple Pay or Google Pay, or click here for information on recurring credit-card payments and a mailing address for checks.

Thank you for your vital support.

Become a Noozhawk Supporter

First name
Last name
Email
Select your monthly membership
Or choose an annual membership
×

Payment Information

Membership Subscription

You are enrolling in . Thank you for joining the Hawks Club.

Payment Method

Pay by Credit Card:

Mastercard, Visa, American Express, Discover
One click only, please!

Pay with Apple Pay or Google Pay:

Noozhawk partners with Stripe to provide secure invoicing and payments processing.
You may cancel your membership at any time by sending an email to .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

  • Ask
  • Vote
  • Investigate
  • Answer

Noozhawk Asks: What’s Your Question?

Welcome to Noozhawk Asks, a new feature in which you ask the questions, you help decide what Noozhawk investigates, and you work with us to find the answers.

Here’s how it works: You share your questions with us in the nearby box. In some cases, we may work with you to find the answers. In others, we may ask you to vote on your top choices to help us narrow the scope. And we’ll be regularly asking you for your feedback on a specific issue or topic.

We also expect to work together with the reader who asked the winning questions to find the answer together. Noozhawk’s objective is to come at questions from a place of curiosity and openness, and we believe a transparent collaboration is the key to achieve it.

The results of our investigation will be published here in this Noozhawk Asks section. Once or twice a month, we plan to do a review of what was asked and answered.

Thanks for asking!

Click Here to Get Started >

Reader Comments

Noozhawk is no longer accepting reader comments on our articles. Click here for the announcement. Readers are instead invited to submit letters to the editor by emailing them to [email protected]. Please provide your full name and community, as well as contact information for verification purposes only.