A Tuesday morning bomb threat forced a lockdown at Tracy High School and evacuation of an Election Day polling place. After more than an hour of searching the campus, Tracy police determined there was no credibility to the threat.
Lt. Octavio Lopez said a phone call to the Tracy Police Department general line shortly after 11:30 a.m. indicated a threat of a shooting or bomb at Tracy High.
“The phone call had some interesting details, but it was vague as to how it was going to happen,” Lopez said. “We worked together with TUSD (Tracy Unified School District) to go ahead and put the school on lockdown while we investigated the validity of the call.”
He added that Tracy High personnel were unaware of the threat until the Tracy police, whose headquarters is right across 11th Street from the school, called for the lockdown.
Meanwhile, officers had to redirect people away from the campus entrances as parents arrived hoping to pick up their children. Before long, an anxious crowd had gathered awaiting word of what was going on. One woman reported that her child had texted that it was a bomb threat. Police assured the crowd that everyone on campus was safe.
The Emma Baumgardner Theater on the Tracy High campus, where people were casting their Election Day ballots, was also cleared, and voting was moved to the police headquarters across the street.
At about 12:40 p.m., parents got word that the campus had been declared safe and they could pick up their children if they wished. Classes went on as usual.
“Through our investigation, which is ongoing, we’ve determined and believe at this time that there is no credibility to any of those threats, but out of caution and the safety of the kids and staff, we’ll continue to have high visibility,” Lopez said.
Police officers and school security guards began their sweep of the campus right after the lockdown was established.
“Security personnel and TUSD personnel know the campus the best, so we’re always looking for what doesn’t belong, what’s out of place. Those are the first indicators,” Lopez said. “Any signs that may show that something has been tampered with or doesn’t look in its place. Those are going to include anything from garbage cans to behind doors and areas that are normally not walked.”
He added that the investigation, which also now includes Tracy Fire Department, will include follow-up on the initial phone call to determine where it came from and identify a possible suspect.
“Our investigators are working on that end. It takes a little bit of time,” he said. “We hope to identify who the responsible is, but at this point we don’t have that information. It’s still an ongoing investigation.”