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No Evidence Backs Rumor of Violence, Police Say

E-mail spreads quickly among Aliso Niguel students. Sheriff's deputies plan extra security at the school today.

March 12, 2001|JENNIFER MENA | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Sheriff's deputies and Capistrano Unified School District officials said late Sunday that extra security would be posted at Aliso Niguel High School this morning after a report of possible threatened violence.

But Orange County Sheriff's Lt. Colin Murphy said that despite receiving hundreds of calls from worried parents, "There is no credible evidence to back up the rumors they are calling about" at the Aliso Viejo campus.

Sheila Durso, an emergency services dispatcher at Capistrano Unified, said she received a call from a teenager who said she had heard someone in a movie theater who said a boy would "shoot up the school Monday."

The boy was named, although the name was not made public, Durso said. The girl who heard the threat was the daughter of an Orange County sheriff's deputy.

The Orange County Sheriff's Department was contacted at 2 p.m.

The Sheriff's Department will bring officers to the school and parents will have the discretion whether they want to send their children, Durso said. The school serves 2,750 students from Aliso Viejo and Laguna Niguel.

"We feel the situation is under control. It's just we've received a lot of calls from worried parents. When we went to school, we didn't have to worry about things like this," Durso said. "It's best to try not to panic . . . but in lieu of what's happening [at other schools], it's just best to err on the side of caution."

She also said that it was possible that students might try to take advantage of certain situations to get a day off from school.

"When I was going to school, somebody would call in a bomb threat, but it wasn't real. But now it's gotten to the point where people's lives really are at stake. It never used to be like that."

Aliso Niguel health teacher and coach Joe Miller said that he believes the students came to believe there might be some act like the recent mass shooting at Santana High School in Santee. Then, the rumor spread through an e-mail sent by students to one another.

"I don't know exactly how it started and how it grew, but after the Santee thing, we have a lot of people who don't know what to expect. It's possible that a lot of kids don't show up for school," Miller said.

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