A 14-year-old student was arrested after writing threats of a school shooting on the door of a bathroom stall at Tokay High on Tuesday.
Lodi Unified School District administrators and Lodi Police Department officers spent the day trying to determine who used the restroom minutes before a student found the threat on the stall door in the morning.
An email sent by LUSD at about 8:30 on Tuesday evening said an arrest had been made in connection with the threat, but no details were available.
Lodi PD confirmed that, following an investigation, a 14-year-old student was arrested at his residence for willfully disturbing a public school. The department’s Facebook message noted that “there was no indication that the student had the means or intent to carry out the threat.”
Tokay’s school resource officer was alerted, and Lodi PD officers responded to the school at about 10:30 a.m., and placed the campus on lockdown.
The threat, scrawled on the door of a bathroom stall and posted on social media by 11 a.m., stated that there would be a school shooting at lunch, either at 10:45 a.m. or 10:55 a.m. In addition, the message warned the school to send “as much people home as you can.”
Dozens of concerned parents lined Century Boulevard by 11 a.m. after receiving texts from their children who attend the school.
Carrie Schiffer was one of many parents waiting for information from police and the district. She said her daughter began texting her at about 10:37 a.m., and was planning on taking her home once the lockdown was lifted.
“She said she was told to run into the closest room,” Schiffer said. “She’s just sitting in a random classroom, and she was told to be quiet. I know they’re all freaking out in there. They just want to go home.”
Rene Dominguez said he was at Target when he received a text from his oldest daughter, who told him he should go to the school and get her sister.
“I tried calling the school after my oldest daughter texted me,” he said. “I couldn’t get through. I guess the phones were down. Then I got a text from my daughter at Tokay saying something about a lockdown.”
While parents waited anxiously outside the school, police officers came out periodically to let them know there was no active threat and that it would be a long wait before students would be released.
Sgt. Steve Maynard said officers determined there was no evidence of an active threat on the campus, and that the school would most likely release students at the end of the school day.
“There was a very vague threat made today,” he said. “Someone wrote on a wall, and they probably thought it was funny because they go on vacation until Monday.”
He said the school was on a ‘soft lockdown,’ meaning teachers were still instructing students while officers and district officials conducted an investigation.
School officials ultimately lifted the lockdown at 12:08 p.m., giving parents the option to take their students home for the rest of the day. Once the announcement was made over the school’s public address system, parents lined up at the administration building to sign their children out.
The rest of the students were required to remain in school for the rest of the day until the final bell at 2:10 p.m.
Sophomore Jeremy Brown and freshman Hector Enriquez said they didn’t know what was going on until several teachers came out of various classrooms and ushered students inside, then told them to be quiet.
“They let us use our phones, just to give us something to do,” Enriquez said. “And a lot of kids were texting their families to let them know what was going on. We just weren’t allowed to make calls or take photos.”
Brown and Enriquez said the rooms they were in were supplied with buckets, flashlights and emergency rations. Many other students, they said, also were told several times to be quiet.
“It’s shocking,” Brown said. “You don’t expect that this kind of thing would happen here. It shouldn’t be happening anywhere.”
Chelsea Vongehr, spokeswoman for the district, said both the police department and Tokay administration investigated the threat thoroughly. She said the district was glad no shooting actually occurred.
In an email to district parents later Tuesday evening, Vongehr said the district was told by Lodi PD that an arrest had been made.
“The safety of our staff and students is paramount and we take all reports of threats seriously,” she said. “We are grateful for the police department’s swift response and are relieved that the threat was determined to be not credible. We urge parents to talk with their children about the seriousness of making any threatening remarks and to report all suspicious behavior observed in person or on social media.”
Sports David Witte contributed to this report.