District and Law Enforcement Take MHS Bomb Threat Seriously
BY SUZANNE GULDIMANN
Malibu High and Mid-dle schools, Juan Cabrillo Elementary and Malibu United Methodist Church Preschool were placed under lockdown on Thursday, after an unidentified male called the school's office at 11 a.m. and stated that there was a bomb on the high school campus. Two additional calls followed the first.
Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department deputies responded to the call by deploying bomb-sniffing dogs from the LASD's Bomb Squad, and the Aero Bureau.
A press release from the sheriff's department states that Malibu High School was thoroughly searched, and "there were no explosive devices and no suspects were located."
Students at the high and middle schools were led to the gym, where they stayed for the duration of the lockdown.
Classes, tests, sporting events and even lunch were cancelled. Panicked parents who rushed to the school and Malibu Park residents attempting to enter or exit the residential neighborhood surrounding the schools faced police barricades.
At 1:30 p.m. the lockdown was lifted and parents were permitted to pick up their children.
"[There were] early indications from the sheriff that they did believe it was a hoax," Superintendent Sandra Lyon said at the Santa Monica Malibu Unified School District board meeting in Malibu that evening. Lyon said that the district's primary concern was keeping the students safe.
MHS Principal Mark Kelly confirmed that there were three calls. Kelly stated that the LASD IT Department, collaborating with MHS's phone carrier, attempted to keep the suspect on the line while they worked to trace the calls. LASD will continue to monitor the phone lines and all incoming calls.
Lyon indicated that sheriff's deputies were able to speak to the caller for "a period of time" during the third call.
The incident remains under investigation.
The bomb scare interrupted state testing and also prevented the MHS track and field team from competing in the Frontier League Track and Field Finals.
California Penal Code Section 148.1 makes it a felony to falsely report the planting of a bomb. The perpetrator(s), if caught and convicted, could face up to a year in prison for the "prank."