Truth, Liberty, Tolerance
It was around 8:05 a.m on September 22, 2016 when Principal Peter Lambert’s voice came over the school-wide intercom announcing that an “unidentified object” had been found at the front entrance of the school. From this moment forward, the immediate assumption among faculty and students was that this so-called unidentified object found at the front of the school was a bomb. For many students, this would only the beginning of a very long day. Following Lambert’s instructions, both students and staff were immediately evacuated to the back football field.
While students were not evacuated from McClatchy until 8 a.m., the unidentified object was found much earlier at 7 a.m. by campus security staff–according to the McClatchy administration. This object was a guitar case, but the uncertainty of what could be inside the case was what worried the McClatchy administration and campus security. While the campus security guard who discovered the guitar case declined to comment due to the ongoing investigation, Mr. Larry Tagg, an English teacher at McClatchy, noted that the package was left by a “transient-looking” individual. Because this guitar case was not left by a staff member, student or parent, it was treated with caution. In addition, the man that left the package mumbled something that campus security couldn’t understand, so it was perceived as a threat.
At 8:40 a.m., the Sacramento Police Department tweeted, announcing that this unidentified object was currently under investigation, and that the bomb squad was on its way “as a precaution.” Well before 10 a.m., both the McClatchy front parking lot as well as Freeport Boulevard were closed to all traffic. On a street like Freeport that is already known for extreme traffic, one can only imagine the chaos that was caused by this closure.
Meanwhile on the back football field, students and teachers sat in the cold waiting for updates from the McClatchy administration and the Sacramento Police Department. Some students enjoyed the opportunity to sit and talk with friends, while others called their parents for early dismissals as to avoid sitting on the grass any longer than necessary. “While I waited, I just hung out with friends,” Derek Lin (‘18) said. Parents lined the gate between Cal Middle School and McClatchy waiting to meet their children to take them home.
However, after close to two hours of waiting out on the football field, at 10:05 a.m. the Sacramento Police Department tweeted that the the guitar case was deemed safe, as its contents were simply two non-threatening guitar foot pedals. Soon after, the McClatchy administration ushered students back to the main building where class resumed. While some were frustrated with the extreme measures taken for this guitar case, Tagg said, “At school, the kids need to be safe. For this reason, I think the campus security did the right thing in taking precautions.”
While in the end this bomb scare ended up being nothing more than an empty guitar case, it will be a day that McClatchy students will never forget. Whether it was getting out of class for two hours or having the bomb squad stop by, this was certainly a first at McClatchy High School.