Dear Families, Staff, and Students,
I want to be sure that the AUSD community knows that the Alameda Police Department has now apprehended the man who entered an AHS classroom yesterday afternoon and interacted with several of our students. The full details are available in this statement from APD:
Yesterday around 2:45 p.m., an Alameda High School teacher noticed an unfamiliar person sitting in a classroom. When the teacher confronted him, he left. The teacher followed the man as he left the campus.
At 2:53 p.m., the Alameda Police Department received a call from a witness reporting that two men were arguing near the Alameda Main Library. At this time, APD was unaware of the incident at the high school. At 3:05 p.m., dispatchers were told that one of the men was a teacher and he was following the other man after an on-campus incident. After receiving this information, officers immediately responded to Alameda High School. At 3:21 p.m., the teacher then contacted APD to report that he lost sight of the person in Oakland.
Today, just before noon, a detective spotted the suspect walking in the 1100 block of Park Street. The 27-year old was arrested for multiple crimes, including possession of drug paraphernalia and probation violation. We take these incidents seriously and appreciate your patience as we continue to investigate this incident.
We appreciate the collaboration with Alameda High School and the Alameda Unified School District.
Both Principal Ithurburn and I are grateful for APD’s partnership, investigation, and apprehension of this suspect.
We have received a number of questions about why AHS did not go into a lock down or shelter in place during these two incidents. These situations tend to be fast moving and complex, but briefly I can relay that in the first case, Principal Ithurburn had successfully engaged the man and brought him into his office, where he did not pose a threat to the school. Rather than raise anxieties across the campus, he decided to quietly work with APD and the Fire Department’s Care Unit to get this troubled young man the help he clearly needed.
In the second incident, the teacher had chased the man out of the building before the campus could be locked down. Once he was off campus, headed away from AHS, and police had been called, AHS determined that he did not pose a continuing threat and let the school continue its operations as usual.
I also want to share an update with you about the Encinal Jr. & Sr. High School on Monday. In the course of the investigation there, staff discovered that a student had a water bottle tucked into his clothes that he was planning to use to start a water fight in the gym. Two people saw the water bottle and thought it was a gun. It was not a gun.
In two of the three incidents that have occurred on campus this week, it was students who saw something suspicious and then proactively alerted adults on campus. This is exactly what we teach our students to do, and we are both proud of and grateful for their quick thinking. Please talk with your students to make sure that if they see something they should say something, even if they’re not entirely sure of what they saw. As Principal Snyder said in a message to her families today, “This is how we all support the community and keep us safe.”
A number of you have also asked what we are going to do to increase security on our secondary campuses. In the short term, AUSD will be supporting AHS in having more staff on campus to help with monitoring entrances and exits. In addition, AUSD, AHS, EJSHS, and the Alameda Police Department will be reviewing campus security over the coming days to see what improvements can and should be made at this time.
It is quite possible that the open nature of some of our schools may need serious reconsideration. This could mean adjustments and inconveniences for the sake of increased safety and perimeter security. Those adjustments could include reduced points of campus access for students and staff, changes to some of our parking provisions, and other actions that may be perceived as inconvenient in the short term for staff and students. We will have more information about this shortly.
Today’s developments and clarifications are helpful; however, we are still very much committed to a thorough after-action review and an exploration of potential adjustments for improved safety and security. Student and staff safety is something we are committed to never becoming complacent about.
Superintendent Pasquale Scuderi