On Jan. 30, El Paso High went into a lockdown while police secured the campus for a potential threat, keeping the school on high alert for hours, as authorities detained the suspects in possession of a BB gun.
The lockdown happened after a 911 call at approximately 9:30 alerted of an outside threat involving a student being chased on foot through the surrounding neighborhoods. As a precautionary measure, the police department required the entire campus to go on lockdown.
“I was very proud of how the campus handled it,” El Paso High Principal, Mark Paz said, “The teachers and the students, all of us kind of understood the seriousness of it.”
The student was reportedly being chased by an SUV and a man on foot in a black hoodie from Lamar Elementary School, down the street from the high school. The SUV was stopped by the police before reaching the high school. However, the reported man in the hoodie was never caught. This prompted the El Paso Police Department to shut the school down.
“They came in with their full gear, ready to do a sweep of the school just to find if there was somebody that matched the description of what the person who called in was wearing” Mr. Paz said.
The students and teachers were prepared for this scenario and reacted accordingly. Many of the students were unaware of the potential danger at foot, in fact, some thought the lockdown was a drill.
“Mr. Strange is one of the teachers that has talked to us a lot about what we would do in a situation like that” Senior, Paulina Ganem-Chee said.
Prior to the school calling a lockdown on the intercom junior, Sergio Borunda, alerted his teacher about the police with rifles walking into the school. This prompted the class to get a head start on getting to their designated hiding spaces.
“I was in Mr. Winter’s class on the first floor, so you have a direct view at the front of the school,” Borunda said. “While we were taking quiz I look up and I just see a bunch of like SWAT officers running into the school with rifles and I was like, I should probably tell Mr.Winter that something’s going on, it was, it was pretty scary.”
The EPPD went class to class making sure the campus was secure and no one was in fact armed. The police department was looking for the person in a black hoodie, who was never found. Once all of the classrooms were secure, the school began to notify the parents about what was happening. Once notified, many students were released to their parents.
“My parents and I felt like we were still shaken up about the whole situation,” senior, Frida Garcia said. “My parents wanted me and my sister home.”
The lockdown was lifted at around 11:15 a.m. More than 800 students were picked up from school after administrators sent out the alert.
However, not all students went home with their parents. Some students’ parents could not make the trip.
“I did not leave the lockdown because both of my parents could not leave work.” Senior, Sophia Fileto-Villanueva said. “We were in fifth period until 1(pm) and it just threw off the whole day.”