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LEUSD On Heightened Alert As Unfounded Rumors Spark And A Manhunt Continues

There were no threats to LEUSD student safety, said spokesman Mark Dennis

Rumors of shooters or intruders at Lake Elsinore Unified School District campuses on Thursday were unfounded, a district official has confirmed.

Rumors began spreading this morning that lockdowns were occurring at Machado Elementary and Heald Academy due to intruders, and there were reports of an alleged gunman near Elsinore Elementary.

All were false rumors, confirmed district spokesman Mark Dennis.

“At no time were there any intruders or shooters, and there was no risk to students,” he said.

One LEUSD campus was on a brief lockdown Thursday, but it was a planned drill. The scheduled lockdown exercise took place at Lakeside High School without incident, and parents had received prior notice of the event, Dennis explained. There were no intruders on the campus and there was no threat to students, he reiterated.

Dennis said he worked Thursday to quell some parent concerns due to the rumors, which may have been spurred by breaking news of a statewide manhunt underway for an ex Los Angeles police officer wanted in connection with three area killings.

Upon hearing Thursday morning's news of the manhunt, the district took a proactive approach, Dennis said. School officials discussed the situation and consequently teachers, staff and school resource officers were on heightened alert as a precautionary measure, Dennis said. Teachers were told they could lock their classrooms if they preferred, which Dennis said may have added to the confusion about campus lockdowns.

“There was a lot at play today due to the news story,” he said.

The district contracts for three full-time school resource officers through the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department. Thursday officers made additional rounds, visiting various campuses. If the manhunt continues Friday, Dennis said he expects the same protocol to continue at the local schools.

As part of the morning’s safety considerations, district officials discussed whether to allow nine planned field trips to go as scheduled. Only one was cancelled due to factors other than the breaking news story, Dennis said.

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