Parents, students, and staff of multiple Mendocino County schools were alarmed yesterday afternoon after law enforcement received reports of potential active shooter situations at several school sites.
The first school targeted was Fort Bragg High prompting a massive response from police, medical, and fire personnel. Helicopters, fire department, ambulances, and law enforcement responded.
A press release from the Fort Bragg Police Department composed by Chief Neil Cervenka indicated the dispatch center received a call yesterday at 1:11 p.m. via a non-emergency line. The caller stated, “there was an active shooter situation at the high schools with multiple students injured.” Schools officials initiated lockdown protocol immediately.
Fort Bragg Police officers and an investigator from the Mendocino County District Attorney’s Office were the first on the scene and immediately ran into the building the caller identified and found “no evidence of a shooting and nothing was heard.”
Six helicopters from the United States Coast Guard, multiple air and ground ambulances, Fort Bragg Fire Department, and Fort Bragg Public Works were amassed in the area. Law enforcement collaborated with school administrators and conducted a room-by-room search of the school site finding no injuries to staff or students nor evidence of a shooting. Agencies that assisted included the Mendocino County Sheriff’s Office, California Highway Patrol, California State Parks, and Fish and Game
After the school was searched and cleared, the lockdown was lifted and students still on campus were released.
Soon after, dispatchers received a similar report about high schools in Ukiah, Willits, and Anderson Valley.
Shortly after the phone call reporting an incident at Fort Bragg High, Chief Cervenka told us a caller with a similar sounding voice called reporting an active shooter at Ukiah High. Unaware Fort Bragg and Ukiah share a dispatch center, the dispatcher noticed that the caller had a similar voice as the person who reported the shooting at Fort Bragg High. When the dispatcher asked if they had just called regarding the Fort Bragg situation, they denied it.
Scanner traffic from yesterday afternoon indicated that shortly after both Willits High School and Anderson Valley High School received similar calls. After each campus had secured its facilities they announced to their students, parents, and staff what had occurred.
With these threats coming in quick succession and first responders locating nothing to corroborate them, authorities have determined these calls were school shooting hoaxes conducted by an unknown individual and have reached out to the Federal Bureau of Investigations to assist in their investigation.
Chief Cervenka wrote in the press release, “It is despicable someone would cause this much emotional trauma in our community. This event disrupted hundreds of lives and tied up emergency resources from the local, county, state, and federal levels. Despite this being a hoax, I’m very proud of the partnership among so many agencies to ensure the safety of our community.”
We have reached out to the FBI Field Office in San Francisco to understand their role in the investigation of the hoaxes and have yet to hear back as of publication.