PALM DESERT, Calif. - A report of a gunman at the College of the Desert in Palm Desert put the campus on high alert Wednesday. School authorities say a call from the Riverside County Sheriff's Department came around 1:45 PM. Several deputies responded to the campus, an alarming sight for students. "I think eight cop cars, some sheriffs walking back into their cars with their assault rifles," said Jacob Peltack.
It's a situation campus director of security Ray Griffith and his team train for, but hope never happens. Sheriff's deputies blocked exit and entry to the campus and locked down the Child Development and Training Center. Then, began looking for a threat with security guards. "There was no panic," said Griffith. "There was no obvious running, there was nothing. But, we still went on and did a complete search of the whole campus to make sure we did not have an active shooter."
The search came up empty and everything returned to normal. The attention now shifts to where the very serious report came from. "It was a mere miscommunication," said Deputy Julio Oseguera from the Riverside County Sheriff's Department. "Somebody got some bad information."
Information the sheriff's department says it never takes lightly especially with the history of school shootings in our country. The response took many students by surprise. "It's not like every day that you get to see two sheriffs, you know, like running after somebody." said Arturo Partida.
Partida could only guess what prompted the actions from the deputies, and that's a concern for some students. "It'd be real great if they had some kind of alert notification or something for us students," said Peltack.
Griffith said the school does have an emergency alert system through text message, but chose not to use it to avoid creating a panic. With student safety in mind, he's proud of the emergency response from his team, even in what proved to be a false alarm. "it worked very well," said Griffith. "it may be not the way I'd like to run a test of it, but it worked very well."
The sheriff's department continues to investigate how the information got passed down.