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Police Search High School for Gunman

Whittier: Students are kept in their classrooms after girl reports being accosted in a restroom. No suspect is found.

September 21, 2002|From Times Staff Writers

More than 2,000 Whittier High School students were confined to their classrooms for several hours Friday after a student reported that she had been accosted by a gunman in a restroom.

No one was hurt, and police failed to find the suspect during a three-hour search of the campus.

Whittier police said the incident occurred shortly before 11 a.m.

A female student told security guards that a man had placed a gun in her mouth when she walked into a science building lavatory.

Lori Gold, a community relations coordinator for Whittier police, said the student, who was not identified, had reported that the man demanded she obtain some sort of property for him.

"He told her he would kill the next person who entered the restroom if she didn't comply," Gold said.

The man then released the girl, and she fled.

School officials called police and closed down the campus until 2 p.m., confining about 2,200 students to their classrooms while police and sheriff's deputies scoured the grounds.

Although the female student was the only witness, authorities said her account was believable.

As the search was conducted, hundreds of parents waited outside the school for news of what had happened.

Students were not allowed to leave their classrooms for a drink of water or to use the lavatories.

"We could do nothing. There was no water and no food," said 16-year-old sophomore Melissa Felt.

Julie James, 38, of Whittier said she had problems trying to reach her 15-year-old son, Ryan, when she came to school to drop off a note for him.

She parked her car in the parking lot, where it was blocked by police cruisers and other parents' cars. She said she finally had to walk home.

"It was a scary day for parents as well as students," James said. "They would not allow us to go into the school, and we had to wait outside."

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