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The Tongva Times

The Tongva Times

The Tongva Times

Bomb threat causes evacuation

Tongva Times Staff

Photo courtesy of Marguerita Drew
SAFE LOCATION Students and staff evacuated to the parking lot of the Mission Valley Free Methodist Church on San Gabriel Blvd. after a bomb threat was called into the school. Local police secured the area.

   Students and staff at Gabrielino High School were evacuated on Tuesday after the main office received a call indicating that there was an explosive device on campus.

  According to Principal Negar Mizani during an early morning staff meeting on Wednesday, a bomb threat was made via telephone at approximately 10:40 a.m., during third period classes.

   Clerk Typist II Raelene Villa answered the phone and heard the threat. 

   Villa stated, “I was in shock at first.”

   Following the call, the administration contacted law enforcement and, according to Mizani, officers arrived on campus almost immediately.

   The police advised Gabrielino’s administrative team to initiate a “soft lockdown” – during which teachers lock their classroom doors but continue instruction – while they assessed the situation.

   Approximately 45 minutes later, it was decided that all staff and students should evacuate to the field. Once all classes were accounted for, the Gabrielino community was then instructed to evacuate the premises. 

   The parking lot of Mission Valley Free Methodist Church, less than one block away on San Gabriel Blvd., became the designated evacuation and reunification location.

   Students and staff remained in the parking lot while school administrators, Mizani and Assistant Principal Vince Lopez,  accompanied K-9 officers on a sweep of the campus. No explosive devices were found on  the premises.

   During the hours-long wait at Mission Valley Free Methodist Church, Gabrielino staff and faculty pitched in to make the students as comfortable as possible. Cindy Herrera, cafeteria manager, led the distribution of water and snacks throughout the crowd. 

  District office personnel were instructed to stop their tasks and drive directly to the church to lead the release of students to their parents. In the parking lot, teachers took the lead in giving instructions and information to the students.

   Many staff memberrs acted as “runners” to get students to their parents who were waiting in line at the parking lot entrance to retrieve their children.

   Gabrielino Campus Supervisor Wes Licher stated that “some of the parents were very anxious and I just tried to get their kids to them as quickly as possible.”

  While the majority of students remained with their third period teachers as names were called for students to reunite with their parents, Licher commented that “some of the kids did not stay with their teacher and were hanging out with friends. [So] it was difficult to find them.”

   By 3:10pm, groups of parents were allowed to enter the parking lot and retrieve their children. Students who did not have a parent or guardian available to pick them up returned to Gabrielino with faculty and staff.  

   Only faculty was allowed to retrieve personal belongings from the campus. Students’ possessions, which were left when the evacuation began, remained in the classrooms over night.

   On Wednesday, school began with third period so that students could gather their backpacks and other personal property. 

   Several law enforcement agencies responded to the bomb threat, including Alhambra and Pasadena police departments. Officers blocked off San Gabriel Blvd. and its side streets in order to secure the safety of the Gabrielino community in the church parking lot, as well as to keep the parents, who had lined up for several blocks to retrieve their children, safe.

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Bomb threat causes evacuation