Two Simi high schools locked down after rifle scare 

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Royal High School and St. Rose of Lima Catholic School in Simi Valley underwent a four-hour lockdown Wednesday, Feb. 15, after a parent mistook a ceremonial color guard rifle for a weapon on Royal’s campus.

Students and faculty from both schools were confined to their classrooms for four hours.

“Everyone was told there were two active shooters on campus and that people were being held hostage, but after we had been released we found out that it was a rifle used for school drill teams,” Royal High School freshman Aarushi Khandare said.

Students and faculty were told via an intercom announcement to stay silent and not move for the entirety of the lockdown.

“We were all crying, and some were locked in the bathroom. If you had to use the restroom, you had to do your business in buckets. It was so scary,” Khandare said.

A lockdown or shelter in place could be done for a variety of reasons to help keep students safe.”

— Jason Meskis

A student on the color guard team brought the rifle onto campus.

“The gun is a wooden color guard rifle that is painted white. The parent went directly to the administration when they saw it, and the police notified everyone,” Royal High School freshman Natalya Koshy said.

Oak Park High School’s color guard team also uses ceremonial rifles.

“It’s just one of the items we use to toss and dance with, like we do with flags and sabres. I would call it an accessory when we dance,” Oak Park High School sophomore and color guard member Elika Parab said.

Several students said the overall experience was frightening. Royal High School senior Vianey Vicencio Torres said she was in her IB English class when the lockdown announcement occurred.

“My teacher then told the class to split and to go into two closets at the back of the room. I was in the room with a student teacher and about 15 other students.” Torres said.  “We stayed in there until 10:20 until SWAT came in and told us it was safe to sit in the classroom.”

According to members of Royal High School faculty, the false alarm was a way to practice proper lockdown protocols.

“Though this was not ideal, it was a good way for us to see if everything worked out fine. Our entire staff followed protocol and students followed it, as well. Everything went to plan, so we are prepared if something like this were to happen in the future,” a faculty member of Royal High School, who wished to remain anonymous, said.

Oak Park High School practiced a lockdown drill Thursday, Feb. 9.

“Last week, we had a lockdown, which is one of our procedures for handling a situation that might involve someone who comes on campus with a firearm,” Oak Park High School Principal Kevin Buchanan said. “There are other protocols which involve evacuating the campus or running away from the threat or even fighting back, depending on the proximity or imminence of the threat. It is very unusual, and I know of no situations locally where this has been necessary.”

School protocol requires a mandatory lockdown if a firearm becomes threatening to faculty or students at any time.

“If we are notified of a gun on campus, we go into a lockdown like the drill we practiced last week,” Oak Park High School Assistant Principal Jason Meskis said. “A lockdown or shelter in place could be done for a variety of reasons to help keep students safe.”

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