Lockdown: Suspicious Person Removed

Nikki Iyer, News Editor

“Please shelter in place. Shelter in place in this moment. It is not a drill.” 

The announcement came over the PA At 12:02 p.m. on April 13.

“I think when she said ‘this is not a drill’ my heart legit stopped beating for a second. I was so panicked, people were crying in my class,” said junior Nikita Karande.

Principal Manoj Mahindrakar initiated the 30-minute lockdown after an encounter with an unidentified man on campus. Law enforcement arrived and took the man into custody shortly thereafter.

“A man we did not recognize walked into our parking lot and did not answer my questions or follow my directions when I addressed him.  Your safety is my primary concern, so when I was unsure of who this man was or what he was doing on our campus I made the decision to go into lockdown,” said Mahindrakar in an email to the SJHHS community.

In the email, Mahindrakar said the man was in his eyesight at all times while on campus and was not in possession of a firearm.

“He never came up to a classroom or a student, he did not have any firearms or a backpack or bag of any sort and he did not drive onto our campus,” said Mahindrakar. 

SJHHS resumed normal operations after the lockdown. However, 390 students were called out of school early, relative to the typical 70 call-outs on a Thursday afternoon. 

Students say they were largely unaware of what the threat was during the lockdown, leading to misinformation circulating through group chats and social media. Rumors spread about if the man was armed, his location, his actions, how many potential threats there were on campus, and more, adding to the panic and confusion.

With everything going on in the world and news today, an event like today, even with a safe outcome can rattle us.

— Mahindrakar

“No one really knew what was going on, and it just made people a lot more panicked and confused,” said junior Emma Megerian.

Though false, many students say they instinctively believed the threat to be a school shooting, due to recent mass shootings across the nation. Last year, 51 school shootings that resulted in injuries or death occurred  in the U.S. Just this year, 14 school shootings have already occurred, according to Education Week.

“That is so sad that we need to be so prepared for this, and that instantly [a school shooting is] the first thing our minds went to,” said junior Nikita Karande.

“Every morning when I get ready for school I always just think, quickly, what if this happens? Because I watch the news very frequently and I am always hearing about another mass shooting and it really scares me to think that that could happen at school. Where it has happened they think it’s not going to happen to them, and then it does,” said senior Daisy Olson.

Due to efforts by school administrators and law enforcement, the potential threat was promptly removed. However, the sentiment of fear associated with the event has stayed with some students.

“I think this experience, sharing it with everyone, has sort of opened people’s eyes up to how easily stuff like that can happen, and how little anyone is prepared to face a situation like that.” said junior Emma Megerian. “It was sort of eye opening, and a reality check, a punch in the face, to see how quickly things can happen like that.”

Support is available through school counselors.

“I know that hearing that on the loudspeaker is scary, but you all acted appropriately and did what you have been trained to do in such a situation.  With everything going on in the world and news today, an event like today, even with a safe outcome can rattle us,” said Mahindrakar.