Editor's note: Just hours after The Malibu Times went to print Tuesday night, the Malibu/Lost Hills Sheriff's Station announced an arrest had been made in the case of a juvenile who allegedly was involved in an incident at Malibu High School last Thursday, Sept. 26.
That update is available at the bottom of the original story below, which was published on Tuesday.
Tuesday, Oct. 1: Malibu/Lost Hills sheriff’s deputies on Friday identified a man who reportedly threatened a security guard at the Malibu High School campus on Monday, Sept. 23, prompting a security scare.
That scare intensified into rumor-fed fears sweeping Malibu on Thursday and Friday of last week, as sheriff’s deputies and school officials tried to determine what actually happened and stomp out rumors.
The trespasser on Monday allegedly got into a confrontation with a school security guard, which was reported by the guard. As school officials and law enforcement worked to make heads or tails of the allegations, a sheriff’s deputy who declined to be named added that there was some indication the security guard may not have been telling the truth.
As for the trespasser identified on Thursday, detectives said he did not own any legal guns, nor did he have any apparent connection to the school.
By then, rumors snowballed into panic among some after a reported threat against the school from a female student, which significantly escalated sheriff’s deputies’ response.
A female student was spotted on a bus Thursday morning heading to MHS with three fellow students’ names written down, which quickly escalated into a conspiracy theory linking the Monday trespasser to an alleged “hit list.”
Neither was true, deputies and school officials said.
By Friday evening, the sheriff’s station said this student only “had a list containing student names on it. The list did not contain any threat, only a list of names.
“Deputies spoke with the student, parent of the student and school official,” the Friday statement said. During the interview, deputies determined there was no threat made to the named students or the school.
That did not stop rumors, which went into overdrive linking the student to rumors of an attack and connection with the man kept from entering the campus Monday.
“The rumor mill took over this one and connected the two incidents,” SMMUSD spokesperson Gail Pinsker said Friday.
The confusion and controversy led to two meetings with parents: a previously-scheduled Friday session with middle school parents, and a Tuesday morning session with high school parents.
At the Tuesday meeting, parents told sheriff’s deputies that they needed more information and they needed it earlier than it was released last week.
One parent said the license plate number and description of the suspect who had been ejected from campus one week earlier should have been released immediately, so that parents could watch for the car and man.
MHS principal Patrick Miller stressed to parents: “As bad as the scares were last week, what really worries me are the challenges of students on campus who treat their fellow students harshly.”
He said the school’s anti-bullying campaign was important to address that worry.
Oct. 2 KBUU News update: Sheriff’s deputies today said they have made an arrest regarding the Thursday incident involving a girl who reportedly had a “hit list” of targets at Malibu High School, but it is not clear who was arrested, or what the charge is.
Sheriff’s Lt. Greg Minster said he could not release the type of charge suggested by detectives, because the arrested person is a juvenile.
“When a matter is handled by the juvenile court, under state law we cannot release any information.,” Minster told KBUU News.