MERCED More than 100 concerned parents and family members gathered nervously at the gates of Golden Valley High School on Friday after rumors of a gun on campus led to a lockdown.
No injuries were reported at the school at 2121 E. Childs Ave. School district officials said no guns were involved in the incident despite the rumors.
The incident stemmed from a gang-related fight Thursday, said Lt. Bimley West of the Merced Police Department. Information circulated that the fight could've resumed after school Friday.
About 9 a.m., school staff got some information about that possible fight and found out that it could involve a handgun and other weapons, West said.
The school resource officer and other staff decided to put the school on lockdown as a precautionary measure, West said. The lockdown started about 11 a.m. and lasted for a couple of hours.
"It provided the officers with an opportunity to conduct a thorough investigation of the incident and also to conduct a thorough search of this premises to ensure that there were no weapons on campus," West said outside of Golden Valley High School on Friday. "That has been done and we've been assured that the school is safe."
Nobody was arrested Friday afternoon, West said. Several students with information about the alleged fight were taken to the police station for further questioning.
Jennifer Bertuccio, the mother of a senior and a freshman at the school, said she got text messages from her kids before she got an emergency notification call about the situation at 12:10 p.m.
"My kids texted me saying that they're on lockdown and that there possibly could be guns on campus," she said.
The school had recently gone through emergency assemblies to prepare for situations such as the incident Friday, Bertuccio noted.
"My daughter was scared of this because of the assemblies (where) they had to prepare for this," she said. "They have to have it. I'm glad they have it. But it scares her when they have those."
People on edge
Recent media coverage of school shootings has put people on edge, Bertuccio said, as she waited for her children outside the school's gates Friday.
"I think we're more aware," she said. "I think a long time ago we might not have taken it so seriously. I know it scares the kids, but it's the right thing to do even if they find nothing."
Iris Cervantes, an 18-year-old senior at Golden Valley, said she was barricaded in a room until the lockdown was lifted. Cervantes heard about rumors of guns on the campus through Facebook and Twitter.
"Nobody wanted to tell us anything about it, but I started texting my mom and everybody started coming," she said. "I felt like I was going to have a panic attack, but they did take good care of us."
Rumors about the incident spread quickly through social media sites.
Angie Martinez, whose 15-year-old cousin was inside the high school during the lockdown, said there was initially a lot of confusion surrounding the incident.
"A friend had posted on Facebook that one of her nieces had called her saying that they were on lockdown, that there was a massive shooting," Martinez said.
Parents text children
Some parents used text messaging in an attempt to communicate with their children during the lockdown.
Andrea Gonzales, the mother of a sophomore at Golden Valley, said she rushed to the school as soon as she heard of the incident.
"I was frightened and confused because I didn't know what was going on," she said Friday afternoon as she waited outside the school's gate. "I hate having to wait and I'm trying to text my child, and I can't get a hold of him."
Gonzales had other children at nearby schools that also were locked down for precautionary reasons.
"I just want to hold them and hug them and not worry," she said.
Reporter Mike North can be reached at email@example.com or (209) 385-2453.
Reporter Joshua Emerson Smith can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (209) 385-2486.