On the morning of Friday, October 15, prior to first period, two non-student adults came onto Berkeley High School (BHS) campus. These men approached three students and said that they were looking for a particular student.
It was reported by one of the three students that one of the men had a gun and flashed or brandished it.
When the men did not find who they were looking for, they left towards the entrance at Bancroft Way and Martin Luther King Jr. Way. They did not return.
The identity of everyone involved has been kept private, and whether the police have identified the men is unclear.
A school safety officer was immediately notified, who then went to the principal and the police. The school did not file a formal police report and instead contacted the school resource officer, Geoffrey Mitchell.
The school was put on soft lockdown, meaning that the campus was secured, but students and teachers were not informed until after school. All school gates were closed except for one pedestrian gate, which was monitored by safety staff. Members of the Berkeley Police Department (BPD) arrived, and began to search for the student that the men were looking for.
At around 7:30 PM on Friday, October 15, an email was sent out to all students and parents by BHS Principal Juan Raygoza, informing them of the incident.
Raygoza wrote that “[BPD and school administration] did not believe that there was a threat to our students and staff, given that the individuals left campus.”
According to Raygoza, in most instances, all gates open during school hours are monitored by a safety officer. In an email, however, he said, “On Friday, we were short staffed and did not have supervision at every gate in the morning.”
It was unclear if this was true previous to Friday, or if it was an isolated incident.
Raygoza was not able to give new information on the actual case, as it became a police matter almost immediately. The Jacket made multiple attempts to contact the BPD, but received no response.
The incident has left students and staff shaken. Raina Nelson, a junior in Academic Choice (AC), said that she was “terrified that something like this could happen.”
“The incident made me feel a little scared, but mostly sad,” said Phil Halpern, who teaches video production at BHS. “This school should be a sanctuary for people to explore the world of ideas, and when you are distracted by scary stuff like that, it can be hard to teach and to learn.”
While some people, like Nelson, were surprised, others weren’t. Emma Kittredge, a freshman, said that while it was really disturbing, something like this was bound to happen at BHS. She acknowledged that the school has safety precautions that students don’t know about, but she feels that they could do more to keep students safe.
She questioned why, if student safety is a top priority, something like this could happen in the first place.
Kittredge said that she doesn’t want them to “pat people down when they walk on campus, but they could try to check IDs at the gates.”
Cornelius Smith, a safety officer at BHS, agreed that more could be done to keep students and staff safe.
“Anytime someone goes out a door, that enables someone to come in who isn’t supposed to be there,” he said.
Halpern said he thinks the last time a gun was brought on to campus prior to the recent incident was by a student in the 90s.
With the exception of closing more gates during the school day, there haven’t been any obvious changes to safety measures. Halpern said this is possibly because a situation like this is such a rarity at BHS.