Moorpark High School student who made threat later committed suicide

ANTHONY PLASCENCIA/ THE STAR
Parents line up near the Moorpark High School playing fields Thursday morning to pick up their kids. Students were let go for the day after the campus was put on lockdown due to a threat.

ANTHONY PLASCENCIA/ THE STAR Parents line up near the Moorpark High School playing fields Thursday morning to pick up their kids. Students were let go for the day after the campus was put on lockdown due to a threat.

A Moorpark High School 10th-grader who left a threatening note on campus Thursday morning later committed suicide by jumping in front of a train, officials said.

The Tierra Rejada Road campus was locked down about 8:20 a.m. when the 16-year-old left a note in the counseling office saying he was going to harm himself. Officials later searched the entire school, and students were sent home early.

Authorities would not disclose the contents of the note, but they believed the student might also hurt others, said sheriff’s Sgt. Eric Buschow.

“There was a point today where that young man was conflicted,” Buschow said Thursday. “He was either going to take his life alone or he was going to bring violence to that school and then himself.”

School officials called 911 when they read the note, then immediately began searching the campus for the student, but he had already left, said Kelli Hays, an assistant superintendent with the Moorpark Unified School District.

About 9:10 a.m., a person was hit and killed by an Amtrak train near Los Angeles Avenue and Hitch Boulevard. Investigators were not sure the two incidents were related until the body was later identified as the student.

“When a train hits a pedestrian, it causes devastating injuries,” Buschow said. “We were suspecting it might be him, but we couldn’t identify him because of the injuries.”

Buschow did not know if any weapons were found on the student.

More than 70 law enforcement officials responded to the school to search for any threats before allowing students to be released about 10:30 a.m. The district also temporarily locked down nearby Arroyo West and Mountain Meadow schools.

After the high school was evacuated, it was searched again, with a bomb squad and police dogs, but they did not find anything related to the student.

“We didn’t know if he had left anything; that’s why we needed to check the school,” Buschow said. “We wanted to take every precaution to ensure the safety of people at the school.”

No other injuries were reported.

Officers went to the student’s home to talk to his parents, Buschow said. He wasn’t sure if the home was searched but said that would be standard.

The school remained closed for the rest of the day, but classes were expected to resume Friday with increased law enforcement on campus, Buschow said. Grief counselors also will be available Friday, Hays said.

“Tomorrow is the last day before break,” Hays said Thursday. “We felt it was important to provide an opportunity for students who may need support.”

The district also plans to provide a link to resources on its website Friday, as well as a statement about the incident, Hays said.

Authorities will continue to investigate several aspects of the incident, Buschow said, including whether the student acted alone. They’re also investigating what might have led the student to make the threats and then take his own life.

Buschow said he couldn’t discuss what officers had learned so far, although all indications are that the student acted alone.

Hays said she was not authorized to release any information on the student.

The school has had drills to prepare for an incident like this, Hays said. And the lockdown went remarkably smoothly, Buschow said.

“It was like a perfectly executed drill,” he said. “But it wasn’t a drill.”

Students and teachers were advised to stay in their classrooms until the school was evacuated. A long line formed outside the school as parents went to pick up their children. Students were also allowed to walk or drive home.

“We had a staggered release,” Hays said. “We did not want to add any chaos to the situation.”

Chris Kelley, an instructional data specialist, stood outside the school overseeing the exit.

“We have (more than) 2,000 students,” she told parents. “This will take time.”

As they were leaving campus, some students said they had heard rumors about who the student was, and several named him. But none of them knew him personally or knew anything about him.

Alex Padilla, 17, said when the lockdown was issued, teachers closed their doors and turned off the lights before authorities knocked on the door. Once her teacher opened the door, police had their guns drawn, and students had to show their hands.

“That was scary,” she said.

Alex’s mother, Lisa Padilla, said she was in a “complete panic” while waiting outside for her daughter.

“I’m very thankful she had her cellphone,” Padilla said.

Sebastian Lang, 15, is a foreign exchange student from Germany who was also on lockdown Thursday morning.

“It was my first lockdown,” he said. “You really don’t know what’s going on outside.”

Parents had received messages from school officials informing them of the lockdown, but they weren’t sure of the details.

Liness Coronado was exchanging text messages with her daughter during the ordeal.

“She says she’s fine,” Coronado said. “I’m very nervous; I just want to get to her.”

Kristina Haar was also texting with her daughter, who told her she was inside her English class reading with fellow students. Haar said her daughter told her some students were being taken to the school gym, and she didn’t sound scared. Haar also was relatively calm.

“I’m OK,” Haar said. “Sometimes you just have to leave it up to the authorities, but the not knowing is the hardest part.”

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Comments » 21

TopHat writes:

I work down the street from the High school. Keep here more and more sirens. Saw an Ambulance head that way. Hope all is well.

JoshNeedham writes:

There aren't reports of a shooter. There is a concern of a student who threatened to harm themselves, which is causing officials to take the necessary precautions.

racerx_radracer#787849 writes:

The News says one thing, the School say another. My daughter, (locked down student) is also telling me a student jumped in front of a train this morning. Rumor or not not a fun day :(

kx250rider writes:

Things like this are a gross overreaction, and will spawn all kinds of copycat incidents. I live on a hill overlooking LA Ave, and I must have counted sixty law enforcement vehicles headed toward Moorpark High with lights & sirens. Obviously if this had been a person intent on doing harm, the harm would already have been done, as it was in the other recent school violence tragedies. Such a far cry from only a couple decades ago, when I took my Grandpa's World War I revolver to school for show & tell during history class. And that was perfectly OK and acceptable. Shame on society today.

OnTheOutside writes:

Overreaction? Someone must not have been wearing a helmet while crashing their Kawasaki. If the police didn't response adequately this same person would have lambasted them for their non action. Sad that the student was not able to get the help they needed before it was too late. Note how there was an absence of a firearm in the incident but the MAIN factor of an unstable mind was? We need more focus on those in need and just wait when our troops come home in numbers. Wonder what the blind minds will say then.

kkayla writes:

What a complete travesty - a 16 year old boy has taken his own life. My granddaughter attends the school and was evacuated along w/the other students. May his family receive prayers and support from the citizens of Moorpark as they are so famous for giving.

Luvee writes:

in response to kx250rider:

Things like this are a gross overreaction, and will spawn all kinds of copycat incidents. I live on a hill overlooking LA Ave, and I must have counted sixty law enforcement vehicles headed toward Moorpark High with lights & sirens. Obviously if this had been a person intent on doing harm, the harm would already have been done, as it was in the other recent school violence tragedies. Such a far cry from only a couple decades ago, when I took my Grandpa's World War I revolver to school for show & tell during history class. And that was perfectly OK and acceptable. Shame on society today.

All I can say is, it's a different world we live in today.

HearMeOut-Thanks writes:

I blame liberals, atheists, progressives who have all helped to take the fear of GOD from our children. THAT'S RIGHT, I SAID IT!

When Madalyn Murray O'Hare filed a lawsuit which became known as "Murray v. Curlett;" this lead to the 1963 landmark U.S. Supreme Court ruling that outlawed Bible reading in schools. This followed another lawsuit that forbade prayers in schools.

Over the course of decades, the 1960s "Saul Alinsky" radical, progressive, unionized Marxist have taken over the schools and have removed any fabric of morality for our children. When Phil Robertson is excoriated for his beliefs against homosexuality by the liberal, socialist Marxist thought police and fired, the same people herald Miley Cyrus' putrid and moral turpitude antics every time she performs.

There will be more dastardly acts in our schools thanks to the liberal, progressive (aka communist) cancer that has permeated our schools and society.

HearMeOut-Thanks writes:

Speaking of liberal, progressive intolerance...just look no further than our colleges and universities. When a wacko, liberal progressive radical is invited to speak, NO problem. But, when a conservative is invited, the liberal, progressives Marxists on campus protest, threaten and nearly riot to help remove that conservative from visiting campus for a speech. Liberals, progressive, socialist-Marxists have no clue when it comes to respecting others' speeches and thoughts. AND THAT'S A FACT.

Mina writes:

in response to HearMeOut-Thanks:

I blame liberals, atheists, progressives who have all helped to take the fear of GOD from our children. THAT'S RIGHT, I SAID IT!

When Madalyn Murray O'Hare filed a lawsuit which became known as "Murray v. Curlett;" this lead to the 1963 landmark U.S. Supreme Court ruling that outlawed Bible reading in schools. This followed another lawsuit that forbade prayers in schools.

Over the course of decades, the 1960s "Saul Alinsky" radical, progressive, unionized Marxist have taken over the schools and have removed any fabric of morality for our children. When Phil Robertson is excoriated for his beliefs against homosexuality by the liberal, socialist Marxist thought police and fired, the same people herald Miley Cyrus' putrid and moral turpitude antics every time she performs.

There will be more dastardly acts in our schools thanks to the liberal, progressive (aka communist) cancer that has permeated our schools and society.

I blame Fox Christians like yourself who have reinterpreted helping others as coddling and socialist.

Is a tax really all that different from a tithe?

Mina writes:

Fox Christians blame the downfall of society on deterioration of civility and morals, and then they go out and do the bidding of the Fox corporation which is at the forefront of moral decay.

Mina writes:

Fox Christians think there are exceptions to the rule "Love Thy Neighbor".

Sally_Forth writes:

It's very sad that the students didn't see any attempts at outreach to the suicidal boy and instead, saw massive amounts of attention given to what did end up being a pre-emptive drill (there was no shooter on campus).

I hope Moorpark High figures out a way to make it clear to students that they can get help at school for depression or other serious mental health issues - and that the care is provided. The campaign has to be thought out. We've all seen lots and lots of things in schools about what to do with shooters, very little about what to do with mentally ill students.

It's time to start building the mental health, not just the law enforcement, piece of the puzzle.

HearMeOut-Thanks writes:

in response to Mina:

Fox Christians blame the downfall of society on deterioration of civility and morals, and then they go out and do the bidding of the Fox corporation which is at the forefront of moral decay.

Give us something cogent and legitimate. Thanks.

Cy writes:

in response to Sally_Forth:

It's very sad that the students didn't see any attempts at outreach to the suicidal boy and instead, saw massive amounts of attention given to what did end up being a pre-emptive drill (there was no shooter on campus).

I hope Moorpark High figures out a way to make it clear to students that they can get help at school for depression or other serious mental health issues - and that the care is provided. The campaign has to be thought out. We've all seen lots and lots of things in schools about what to do with shooters, very little about what to do with mentally ill students.

It's time to start building the mental health, not just the law enforcement, piece of the puzzle.

My son had no clue. He looked up to the boy and as he said - "He was so funny I thought he could be a comedian some day. Everyone liked him".

catmom writes:

in response to HearMeOut-Thanks:

I blame liberals, atheists, progressives who have all helped to take the fear of GOD from our children. THAT'S RIGHT, I SAID IT!

When Madalyn Murray O'Hare filed a lawsuit which became known as "Murray v. Curlett;" this lead to the 1963 landmark U.S. Supreme Court ruling that outlawed Bible reading in schools. This followed another lawsuit that forbade prayers in schools.

Over the course of decades, the 1960s "Saul Alinsky" radical, progressive, unionized Marxist have taken over the schools and have removed any fabric of morality for our children. When Phil Robertson is excoriated for his beliefs against homosexuality by the liberal, socialist Marxist thought police and fired, the same people herald Miley Cyrus' putrid and moral turpitude antics every time she performs.

There will be more dastardly acts in our schools thanks to the liberal, progressive (aka communist) cancer that has permeated our schools and society.

Thank you. Well put.

Mina, do not bother to return a comment. We are all sick to death of your refusal to admit that conservatives have rights to have opinions. Just keep it to yourself.

wolfbro86 writes:

in response to HearMeOut-Thanks:

I blame liberals, atheists, progressives who have all helped to take the fear of GOD from our children. THAT'S RIGHT, I SAID IT!

When Madalyn Murray O'Hare filed a lawsuit which became known as "Murray v. Curlett;" this lead to the 1963 landmark U.S. Supreme Court ruling that outlawed Bible reading in schools. This followed another lawsuit that forbade prayers in schools.

Over the course of decades, the 1960s "Saul Alinsky" radical, progressive, unionized Marxist have taken over the schools and have removed any fabric of morality for our children. When Phil Robertson is excoriated for his beliefs against homosexuality by the liberal, socialist Marxist thought police and fired, the same people herald Miley Cyrus' putrid and moral turpitude antics every time she performs.

There will be more dastardly acts in our schools thanks to the liberal, progressive (aka communist) cancer that has permeated our schools and society.

Blah, blah, blah. Even if they had been reading the Bible at school, do you think that would have stopped a kid desperate to end his own life? Also, what makes you think that the Bible is the only form of morality? Atheists and agnostics can be perfectly moral people; I've yet to see an atheist crusade or inquisition.

This is a genuine tragedy, and I'm going to say the same thing that I did when I saw the article before about the man who accidentally shot and killed himself while cleaning his gun: my heart goes out to the family and friends of the young man who was the victim of this terrible tragedy.

P.S.: I'm gay, and while I think that anyone's railings against homosexuality drawn from a 2,000-year-old document with a shaky factual basis are detestable, I likewise thought that Miley Cyrus's antics at the AMA's and in "wrecking ball" were detestable, and that Billy Ray must be hanging his head in shame.

LouisXIV writes:

HearMeOut-Thanks has been posting the same tired examples and nonsense, albeit under different screen names for a long time. This is not an issue of personal politics; a child has died. Conservatives or liberals alike should not use this child's death as a platform to spew their political hatred. I am appalled that commenting was permitted on this story. Let the family grieve, Star. You would expect the same respect. To the parents of this child, there are no words, and I am deeply sorry for your loss.

governmentleech writes:

No one even pitied the poor train driver who was helpless but has to live with this the rest of his life, and he was only doing his job. Studies have been done on train engineers who look straight into the eyes of suicide-by-train-committers over the years, and it's the worst kind of ptsd

dreckerson writes:

(prescription drugs) I can't begin to imagine the pain that the family is going through. Many people will step up and lend help and many more will be praying for them I'm sure. This is just what people do when bad things happen, we step up. I do hope that the papers will report on whether or not this young man was on any kind of prescription medication for mood or concentration problems. THIS HAS BEEN FOUND IN NEARLY EVERY SUICIDE OF YOUNG MEN under the age of 21, yet rarely reported on. If he was one a prescription med, we need to make a big deal out of it so someone will do something to put an end to medicating our children...literally to death. My sympathies and prayers go out to this family.

Piru_T writes:

in response to Mina:

Fox Christians think there are exceptions to the rule "Love Thy Neighbor".

Coming from someone like you who shows as much love and compassion as a Tasmanian Devil, you epitomize the false graciousness of the left by not giving a crap about anyone but those who are of the Elite and those you call Poor and Inept.

You claim you are of the poor, only as a crutch for your own ego and self aggrandizement, not their future potential or success that in truth if ever should the notion of those who are now poor ever become a thing of the past, that notion scares you to death.

Now you tell me who's position is based in love, those like you who seek a society of dependency, or Conservatives that seeks success for all.

The choice is obvious that you would never allow those who you call "Poor" or inept to realize dreams accomplished on their own.

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