2017-02-17 / Front Page

Drill team rifle sparks lockdown

By Melissa Simon


EXHAUSTIVE SEARCH— Above, SWAT officers with the Simi Valley Police Department search classrooms Wednesday at Royal High School, after authorities receive a report of a female with a long gun on campus. At right, RHS parent Jamie Carter is overcome with emotion as she waits for updates on the lockdown. EXHAUSTIVE SEARCH— Above, SWAT officers with the Simi Valley Police Department search classrooms Wednesday at Royal High School, after authorities receive a report of a female with a long gun on campus. At right, RHS parent Jamie Carter is overcome with emotion as she waits for updates on the lockdown. The alleged “long gun” that prompted a four-hour lockdown at Royal High School on Wednesday turned out to be a white, ceremonial rifle used by the campus drill team, authorities said.

“There was never an active shooter on the school campus and we didn’t recover any kind of weapon,” said Cmdr. Roy Jones of the Simi Valley Police Department. “We believe the report came from someone who isn’t familiar with the drill team or its equipment.”

Around 8:20 a.m. Feb. 15, SVPD received a report of a female carrying a long gun in some kind of wrapping or case onto the high school campus at 1402 Royal Ave., Jones said.


Photos by MICHAEL COONSAcorn Newspapers Photos by MICHAEL COONSAcorn Newspapers Within minutes, the school was placed on lockdown. Police surrounded the campus, and Royal Avenue between Crocker and Pride Streets was closed to traffic. St. Rose of Lima School, directly across the street from Royal, placed itself on a voluntary lockdown as a safety a safety precaution.

During an exhaustive search of the campus, SVPD’s SWAT team was assisted by the Los Angeles Police Department and a Ventura County Sheriff’s Office helicopter, Jones said.

“We also had our crisis negotiators on scene in the case that there was someone barricaded on campus, but that turned out not to be the case,” the commander said.

“With the help of the air unit, we were able to see that no one was trying to leave the campus, so we contained our search there.”

Throughout the ordeal, groups of parents gathered at both ends of the police tape on Royal Avenue and near campus gates, attempting to contact their children and get more information.


GUNS DRAWN—Above, Simi Valley SWAT officers search the press box in the stadium at Royal High School for an armed person during Wednesday’s lockdown. At right, school buses take students with special needs to Santa Susana High School as a routine precaution. GUNS DRAWN—Above, Simi Valley SWAT officers search the press box in the stadium at Royal High School for an armed person during Wednesday’s lockdown. At right, school buses take students with special needs to Santa Susana High School as a routine precaution. Around 11 a.m., a group of students with special needs were relocated via bus to Santa Susana High School, while the search for the armed person continued.

After officers searched individual classrooms and the entire campus grounds, including the stadium and play-fields, the lockdowns at both Royal and Saint Rose were lifted just before noon.

Keith Derrick, Royal’s principal, said the lockdown went “extremely well.”

“We worked with the police department and took our cues from them on what they needed us to do. We do lockdown drills all the time so that also helped,” Derrick told the Acorn.


Photos by MICHAEL COONSAcorn Newspapers Photos by MICHAEL COONSAcorn Newspapers “SVPD accounted all 2,000 students in a matter of minutes and thoroughly searched and secured our 52-acre campus quickly,” he continued. “I want to thank SVPD for their immediate response.”

The last lockdown at Royal High School occurred Aug. 19, the second day of the 2016-17 school year, following reports of an armed person on campus. The incident lasted about one hour and turned out to be a false alarm.

Darleen Principe contributed to this report.

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