Fake bomb causes campus evacuation

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By Meena Tafazzoli and Caitlin Kawaguchi, News Editors

Cal High was evacuated immediately after school on Oct. 25 after a male student allegedly put a device resembling a bomb in the third floor men’s bathroom, administrators said.

The Walnut Creek police bomb squad later found the device to be a hoax, said Principal Mark Corti.

Police arrested the student for a felony on Oct. 26, school resource Officer Hollis Tong said. Tong would not specify the felony charges.

The boy was booked into Contra Costa County Juvenille Hall and faces expulsion.

Corti told teachers the student allegedly responsible for placing the device in the bathroom turned himself in to police.

Corti would not reveal the student’s grade level.

“The individual responsible has been identified and appropriate action has been taken,” Corti announced to the school last Tuesday over the loudspeaker.

Most students were already leaving school around 3 p.m. when an announcement was made over the loudspeaker to clear the campus immediately and head toward Broadmoor Drive.

“I heard the announcement but I didn’t really care,” said freshman Morgan Balaban.  “But lot of people were freaking out.”

The announcement was made after administrators received a call from English teacher Michelle Mascote that there was a suspicious object in the bathroom.

Mascote made the call just before class was dismissed after hearing from two of her students that there  was something resembling a bomb in the the men’s bathroom.

“Two students came into the room and described a strange object,” said Mascote. “The students communicated concern, and I felt concern when they told me what they had seen.”

Upon receiving the call, Corti, assistant principal Damon Wright and Tong went directly to the main building to evaluate the situation.

The suspicious item was a box about the size of a tissue box, sitting on the porcelain portion of the toilet with wires coming out of it, Wright said.

“We didn’t spend any time in there,” said Wright. “We saw it and realized we had a problem.”

Corti and Wright split up to evacuate the main building.

“The first instinct was to ensure the safety of the students,” said Corti. “We didn’t know what it was, so we treated it as though it was a real threat.”

Tong made the decision to call the Walnut Creek police bomb squad. The police and fire department also arrived on scene.

“The bomb squad sent in a robot to look at the device,” said Corti. “They had a very careful, deliberate response to the situation.”

After about 45 minutes, the bomb squad determined the device was, in fact, a fake.