Berkeley High School is currently on lockdown as we write. Prinpical Pasquale Scuderi issued an email to the parent community stating: “This is a precaution we are taking because we believe there were individuals with weapons on the perimeter.  All of our students are safe inside their classes and we will have more information to follow within the hour. The incident has been resolved.”

Berkeleyside will bring you updates as we get them.

3:50pm: The school is no longer on lockdown. Principal Scuderi will be issuing more details shortly, according to an email from BHS.

4:26pm: A BHS email newsletter reports: “There was a report of suspicious behavior outside the high school today and the school was temporarily on lockdown from 3:10 to 3:50pm. The Berkeley Police Department investigated, but found no weapons and no arrests were made.”

5:00pm: Berkeley Police Department spokesperson Sgt Mary Kusmiss reports that BPD received a call from BHS at about 3:10pm saying a parent had seen a young man with a possible black gun in his waistband on the western perimeter of the campus. Within 30 seconds of the call police officers were doing area checks. “A BHS Safety officer followed the subject at a distance and reported that he was last seen on Martin Luther King Jr. Way just north of Bancroft Way. BPD officers were in consistent communication and collaborated with the BHS principal, staff and safety officers throughout the response. BPD officers detained a group near the H building on the Martin Luther King Jr. Way side of the school campus. BPD conducted a field show up with the witness/parent who did not positively identify any member of the detained group. No weapon was found. BPD rebroadcast the description of the possible suspect and officers will continue to keep this individual in mind.”

7:00pm: Principal Scuderi has emailed the parent community. Scuderi says he ordered the school to be on lockdown when a witness came into the school office saying they thought they had seen a youth with a gun. “I made the decision to lockdown our campus immediately. In the wake of
recent incidents I will take no risks where student safety is concerned. Calling a lockdown brings about great anxiety and stress for all staff and students and parents but given the circumstances our response was the only appropriate response,” he wrote.

After an extensive BPD search, no weapons were recovered following an extensive search and questioning.

Four individuals were detained, two of whom were BHS students, with another being an Independent Study student and a fourth student was from B-TECH.  A thorough investigation is being conducted by administrative staff, even though a weapon was not recovered and no arrests were made.

He continues:

“I am deeply saddened at the manner in which the events of the past several
days have negatively impacted the climate of our school; it troubles me to
know that many of our students and families have had to be preoccupied
with physical safety rather than be preoccupied with the huge positives
that occur on our campus each day.  I still hold firmly to the fact that
almost all of the nearly 3,300 students who attend BHS show up every day
in a positive and productive way.

We were fortunate today in that no weapon was discovered and while I
acknowledge that the process we initiated was stressful for staff and
students, we believe that our response was warranted.

Any individual bringing a weapon on to campus or around campus will be
arrested and recommended for expulsion. I have said repeatedly in the last
several days that as educators we will meet a young person no matter where
they are or how hard they are struggling; the exception to this is a
student or individual who brings a weapon on or around our campus. This is
a non-negotiable and is the one sure way an individual will forfeit our
support. Ours is a community of learning and creativity and individuals
who selfishly put that community in jeopardy by bringing weapons to school
are not welcome at BHS.

Please take a moment to debrief this situation with your kids. It would be
helpful to us if you reviewed the very basic but essential things we need
them to know if we ever have to initiate a lockdown again. Review with
them, as we did today, that if they are outside their classroom, out on a
hall pass, passing period, etc. they are to proceed to the nearest safe
space, an office, classroom, etc. The student’s job in this situation is
to get to the nearest safe space possible and not necessarily to their
assigned classroom.

Secondly, please help us emphasize to students that we will only initiate
a lockdown if we feel that there is a tangible threat to their safety. We
expect them to remain in their classrooms or safe spaces until we end the
lockdown and to cooperate with teachers as well as be attentive to
announcements and information that will enhance their safety.

I truly understand how these incidents have frightened and concerned you.
Please know that we understand the emotional impact these incidents have
on families and we are working harder than ever to make our campus safe
and secure.”

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Tracey Taylor is co-founder of Berkeleyside and co-founder and editorial director of Cityside, the nonprofit parent to Berkeleyside and The Oaklandside. Before launching Berkeleyside, Tracey wrote for...