College Handles Misreported Shooter Situation

Police and Campus Safety found no threat, which led to a delayed notification


Megan Cansino

Police and Campus Safety responded to the report near Building 26.

Latest Update: Dec. 2, 8:00 a.m.:

Human Resources Executive Assistant LaToya Bass has provided SAC.Media with the incident report.

Members of the Mt. SAC community received an alert around 5 p.m. on Nov. 16 regarding a situation that occurred on campus around 10:20 a.m.

At 10:20 a.m., Sergeant Brian Owen was contacted by Walnut Station Watch Commander Deputy Kim to alert the campus that an individual affiliated with Mt. SAC made a 911 call indicating that “Kim” was missing. The deputy was provided with a building and room number. No further information was provided and the deputy reportedly said the individual sounded “somewhat confused and incoherent.”

This individual is redacted as “confidential” in the incident report, but has since been confirmed to be an employee of the college.

Owen told the deputy that campus safety would investigate this missing person report since it was on campus.

While investigating this report, a colleague of the employee who made the missing person report made a report to Police and Campus Safety. This colleague said the employee told them that there was an active shooter on campus.

Police and Campus Safety responded to this incorrect report of an active shooter situation in Building 26 and investigated immediately before determining that the employee had “imagined a threat” and that there was no threat to campus.

After this determination, Police and Campus Safety received additional calls from other colleagues of the employee. These individuals were concerned for the employee after receiving unusual texts, emails and phone calls from them. None of these other colleagues received anything mentioning an active shooter, however.

The alert refers to this as a “series of perplexing text messages and phone calls on Tuesday, Nov. 16, which culminated in the report of a gunman.”

To clarify, the alert’s statement oversimplified the situation by combining numerous chronological events into one sentence.

The report was made by one individual after hearing from the employee.

The other colleagues with multiple messages from this employee were not informed of this “imagined threat.”

They later determined the employee was experiencing a medical issue after determining the employee’s location and identity. Neither of which were released to SAC.Media.

Police and Campus Safety had an on-site patrol of two officers at the scene to confirm there was no active shooter, while another officer was able to get on the phone with the employee who “imagined a threat.”

On contact, this employee whispered and was described as having “confused speech” before they provided Police and Campus Safety with a location. They were found underneath a desk in a dark room and only voluntarily emerged from this location after the Police and Campus Safety officers developed trust with them.

Officers reached out to a “responsible party” related to the employee. They provided the officers with more information regarding the behavior and led to the determination that the employee was not a danger to themselves or others. After this determination, a “responsible party” arrived on campus and took the employee home.

No notification was sent out during this time, but word spread between the colleagues that were contacted. This led to two classes sheltering in place, POLI 1 and POLI 1H. Public safety escorted both classes out of Building 26 and Student Health Services arrived at the building to provide further resources.

“We’re grateful for the swift response of the Police and Campus Safety department as well as our mental health clinicians,” Mt. SAC President William Scroggins said in the alert’s presser. “While the campus was not in danger, the fear was very real for some individuals who needed to shelter in place. If this event triggered stress, anxiety or other challenges, please use our mental health resources and let us support you.”

The college provides mental health resources at the following numbers: (909) 274-4400 for students and (909) 274-6211 for employees. Employees additionally may email [email protected].

While these resources are available, emergency calls should be handled by 911.

This incident, despite being labeled as a Crime Alert, was not a crime. That labeling was just what the template was referred to in the college’s Emergency Notification System. The template has since been renamed to Public Safety Alert so that the system can still “share information about public safety issues that would be helpful to the community.”

Information from this article has been sourced from the campus’ incident report, Marketing Director Uyen Mai’s responses to SAC.Media and the public alert that was sent out.

Prior Updates

Corrections: Dec. 1, 11:00 p.m.:

After receiving the full incident report (21S-00083) on Dec. 1 from Human Resources Executive Assistant LaToya Bass in response to SAC.Media’s Nov. 16 formal Public Records Act request, portions of the article have been changed for accuracy.

We previously reported:

Police and Campus Safety responded to an incorrect report of an active shooter situation by an employee in Building 26. This report was made by an employee’s colleagues after the employee had “imagined a threat” and told their colleagues that there was an active shooter in a series of “perplexing text messages and phone calls.”
There was no shooter and this employee was later determined to have been experiencing a medical issue.
Police and Campus Safety had an on-site patrol of two officers at the scene to confirm there was no active shooter, while another officer was able to get on the phone with the employee who “imagined a threat.”
After public safety determined that this was a medical issue and not an active shooter situation, no notification was sent out. They also determined that there was no threat to campus as a result of the situation.

Based upon new information released in the incident report, this is an incomplete understanding of the events that occurred. The lack of information provided led to a misrepresentation of how the department came to their conclusion that this incident was not a threat to the campus.

The second sentence in the first graf is incorrect. One single individual reported that the employee said there was an active shooter. All subsequent reports were of concern regarding that employee, with none of those reports referencing an active shooter situation.

The new narrative and update addresses that campus safety was alerted of concerning messages from this employee by Walnut Station prior to the reports made by the employee’s colleagues on campus.

Changes for further clarity/accuracy:

“Word spread between the colleagues of the employee that were contacted.”
“Word spread between the colleagues that were contacted.”

around 5:11 p.m.
around 5 p.m.

at 11 a.m.
around 10:20 a.m.

Reasoning behind these changes:

Phrasing made it harder to understand how word spread.

Various groups on campus received emails about this incident at different times, while 5:11 p.m. was the time that the author of this article received the email to their student email. It was sent to their personal email at 5:05 p.m.

The incident report lists the first activity regarding this incident at 10:20, while the initial alert said “at about 11 a.m.”

Update: Nov. 22, 8:00 a.m.:

The entire article has been updated to reflect the answers Marketing Director Uyen Mai provided to SAC.Media’s questions.

Although SAC.Media has identified one of the impacted classes that sheltered in place, SAC.Media is currently unable to provide additional information due to privacy concerns.

Similarly, the district will not be releasing information about the classifications of individuals that were involved or contacted.

“To protect their privacy, we are not providing additional details about their identity or the identity of the colleagues.”

Update: Nov. 18, 10:40 a.m.:

Marketing Director Uyen Mai provided SAC.Media with new information. Two classes were sheltered in place after “a few colleagues” and Police and Campus Safety received these messages.

After receiving new information, certain phrases in the article were changed for clarification:
“helped a few classes” became “helped two classes, POLI 1 and POLI 1H,”

This article was originally published on Nov. 17.