Domestic violence scare puts campus in Run, Hide, Defend

Classes put on lockdown during lunch on Monday


The suspect was safely secured by the Sunnyvale police. Photo courtesy of Edgar Vega.

case of domestic violence behind a nearby 7-11 sent campus into a temporary lockdown yesterday, the first in four years. Police initiated lockdown after they found a loaded backpack from the perpetrator in the domestic dispute, and the suspect was considered armed and dangerous, according to a press release issued by the Sunnyvale Department of Public Safety. The suspect in the case, Ryan McCleaf, was arrested soon after the lockdown began. 

An alarm was broadcasted by the loudspeakers near the end of lunch, and an announcement over the intercom alerted students a lockdown was in place.

Students were instructed to go to their fourth period classes for the sake of keeping track of attendance, Principal Greg Giglio said in an email interview with the Epitaph.

“I kept on wondering, ‘What do we do? Where do we go?’ It definitely didn’t help that the announcement came on, telling us to go our last class, and people began rushing out,” junior Rebecca Fenselau said.

Giglio acknowledged that the directions to go to previous classes may have contributed to the confusion.

“In hindsight, it would have been better to just tell students to either run or go to the closest room,” Giglio said.

The alarm’s meaning was unclear to many students, due to the unusual sound and the modified testing schedule. Some assumed it was the bell for the end of lunch.

“[The bell] obviously wasn’t normal, but I thought it was just a distorted version of the lunch end bell. Then I saw a teacher run into the art building and that’s when I realized something was wrong,” junior Austin Bowen said.

Not every student could hear the announcement from their various points on campus, and there was difficulty in discerning the alarm from a normal bell, Bowen said.

“We were just about to finish lunch when the bell rang, and at first, everyone in the room was rather confused because I don’t think we had heard the alarm before during this school year,” sophomore Meera Srinivasan said.

Confusion continued throughout the lockdown.

“For like the first twenty minutes, I thought it was a drill,” junior Emma Chan said.

Many students near the boundaries of the school during lunch ran off campus instead of into classrooms, Bowen said. Additionally, a number of students were off-campus for lunch, creating further complications and confusion.

“I grabbed my backpack and ran out of the school as fast as I could, looking back to make sure my friends were doing the same,” Bowen said. “I saw a bunch of other people running in the same direction as I was, as well. Some people ran into the buildings, though most of the people I was paying attention to left the school.”

Giglio said there is no current procedure in place specifically for the safety and management of students running off campus.

“We usually rely on police who are on the outside managing the situation,” he said.

Despite being instructed by police to remain off campus, students who left campus and did not return were marked as unexcused absences, Giglio said. Those who left were instructed to return to campus in an email sent to parents at 2:23 p.m.

“[Absent students] are listed as unexcused because that is how we have to code it,” Giglio said. “But I would be sure that teachers are going to be lenient and understanding.”

The situation came to an end about 45 minutes later when Giglio announced the conclusion of the lockdown over the loudspeaker. The lockdown was lifted once police confirmed the safety of the campus and the perpetrator was arrested, Giglio said. Students were then instructed to go to a shortened sixth period class, beginning five minutes after the announcement.

“I trust the police, I trust their judgement. If they say it’s okay to go back to class, I’m okay with that,” Chan said.

Counselor Marisa Amezquita said she noticed some distressed students when the situation ended, but said she believes a more developed reaction will be felt today.

“There were lots of kids consoling each other in the quad, and I was able to go talk to them and find out if they needed any more guidance or wanted to talk to anybody,” Amezquita said. “I feel like today, now, teachers will start to see any sort of reactions in students that need to be addressed. It all happened so quickly, too fast for a reaction to sink in.”

Overall, Giglio said the lockdown went well but that there were some issues.

“In general, considering it happened during lunch, the campus was cleared and locked down very quickly,” Giglio said. “There were some issues and we are looking into those today … This will never be a perfect situation or resolution, but everyone did what they were supposed to do.”