MADERA, Calif. (KSEE/KGPE) – Madera chief of police Dino Lawson says more than thirty officers rushed to Nishimoto Elementary School on Tuesday to respond to a school shooting threat that turned out to be a hoax, called in by an 11-year-old student.
“That call goes out, you hear it over the radio, and my heart sunk. This has to stop. This is ridiculous. I don’t see how there’s any humor… it’s just sick,” said Chief Lawson.
Under California law, criminal charges cannot be given in the juvenile system against minors under the age of twelve, which means the Department of Social Services will handle this case.
Chief Lawson said the suspect need to face the consequences.
“…because that’s a deterrent. You have to know that there are consequences to what you’re going to do regardless of your age. We can look at getting them help and assistance, but now there have to be consequences,” he said.
Chief Lawson also credited the school resource officers on campus for putting the school on lockdown quickly and facilitating communication between police and district officials.
“That’s how the notification gets made – through those school resource officers who are actually there. They hear the call for service and immediately say, ‘hey, this is what’s going on, this is the information we have so far, lockdown protocols are in effect,'” he continued.
Bullard High School faced a similar situation on Wednesday. As controversy continues around the possible cell phone ban at Bullard, we asked Chief Lawson what he thought about the matter. He said he believes students need their phones in situations like this to make calls to authorities.
“If you ban all cell phones, what about the time when the other students need the cell phones to be able to call the police department?” Chief Lawson asked.
Madera Unified School District declined to give comment on the incident or the current status of the student.