HUGHSON — A false report of a gun at Hughson High School led to some frightening moments Wednesday, according to students, teachers and parents.
Hughson High and its 750 students were locked down about 9:45 a.m. after two intruders were spotted on campus and a student told school officials that one of them had a gun, said deputy Andrew Winter, a Stanislaus County Sheriff's Department spokesman.
Parents reported getting text messages from their children alerting them to the situation: "Code blue. Not a joke."
Law enforcement officers from throughout the county — already in the area for a peace officers memorial at nearby Lakewood Memorial Park — swarmed the school, blocking off neighboring streets and securing a perimeter. The intruders initially eluded officers, triggering an extensive search of the school and surrounding areas.
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Fearing for nearby elementary schools and a retirement home, officers used K-9 dogs to apprehend the two, Winter said. He did not know if they sustained injuries from the dogs, but said they did not need hospital treatment.
Though no weapons were found, the suspects — both teenagers — were booked into Juvenile Hall for unlawful entry onto a school campus. The boys — ages 14 and 15 — do not attend Hughson High, but live in the county, Winter said.
Because they are juveniles, authorities did not release their names.
After apprehending the two, officers combed the school grounds and searched each classroom for any other intruders or weapons. They did not find either.
By 11:25 a.m., Hughson High's lockdown was lifted. All other Hughson schools — Hughson Elementary, Fox Road Elementary, Ross Middle School and Dickens High School — also were locked down, but reopened about 30 minutes before the high school.
Most Hughson High students ate lunch and returned to class, but others decided they were too distracted or scared and went home.
"We're continuing with school as usual. It was a false report. It was a bunch of commotion based on a fake report," said Brian Beck, superintendent of the Hughson Unified School District.
Teacher Jack Bland said he was in a "safe place" with about 30 students. He said students were excited, but not panicked. And they were curious about what was going on.
Rumors were rampant. Students and bystanders said there were stories that shots had been fired, that one, two or three students had been arrested, and that police were searching downtown for evidence. But none of those were true.
Officials sent worried parents to the Hughson Fire Department, where they awaited news, texted and called their children, and exchanged information.
Though mild, the interruption will force the delay of some senior exit interviews.
Some rescheduling needed
Senior Samantha Rogers needs to reschedule her interview. She was in the band room during the lockdown, where her teacher played a movie while many students chatted about what was going on outside.
"It became real when the SWAT team came in," Rogers, 18, said. "I didn't process it until then. A lot of people were frightened. It wasn't a big deal to me. I felt very safe."
Winter and Beck complimented school staff, students and police for their quick action.
"Any type of threat like this, whether it's credible or a possible rumor, we definitely need to respond," Winter said. "We treated it as an active shooter scenario, a perimeter was established, the suspects were found inside that perimeter. Everything worked as it should."
Bee staff writer Patty Guerra contributed to this report.
Bee staff writer Michelle Hatfield can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 578-2339.