By Allison Ko, 16, Wilson HS (Hacienda Heights)
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Students are searched before entering school.
Photo by Billy Lin courtesy of the Wilson High newspaper Paw Prints Weekly

On Wednesday, April 16, a threat against my school was posted on Wikipedia. Targeting several students as well as the school’s badminton team, the threat said that there was going to be a shooting at my school on Friday, April 18. Students who were named on the hit list were told not to come to school. The rest of us did not know about the threat until the next morning. When I got to school, I was confused and had no idea what was going on. As I found out about the threat, I was more shocked than scared. I usually heard about stuff like this in the news, but I never imagined that it would happen to me at my school.

Thursday started out like a normal school day—I was in a rush, hoping not to be late for the second time in a week. At the gate where my dad always drops me off, there was a security guard blocking our way. My dad drove me to the main entrance, where I saw a long line of students.

There were police cars everywhere and all the gate entrances to the school were blocked, so that no cars could come in. Policemen were searching our bags. My classmates were getting scanned with a metal detector. What the heck was going on?
After about 40 minutes, it was finally my turn. The police told me to open my book bag and stand in line for a security guard to search me with a metal detector. My friend asked a police officer what the reason was behind all this. He explained that it was confidential.

In my zero period class, our teacher explained that something had happened the previous night. He told us that he didn’t know much yet, but assured us that we were safe. Walking to our first period class, my friends and I looked out the school gate and saw a huge line of students, even longer than when I first got to school.

In my first period only about seven students out of nearly 35 were in the classroom. The teacher turned on a movie for us to watch. People were coming in one by one; yet there were still some empty seats. I talked to one of the editors of the school newspaper staff, Jenny, about whether we should be taking pictures of the line of students and the bag searches. We decided to go. Administrators and faculty members were all around the school, telling students to go to their first period classes.

“Where are you girls going?” one counselor asked us. “You girls need to be at your first period class.”

Jenny took me to her friend’s first period, a senior math class. The teacher and the students were talking about the threat. They said that Homeland Security and the FBI were involved. At that moment, I knew I should have stayed in my first period classroom. I nearly ran back to my first period class because I didn’t want the counselor to catch me again. I felt that something serious was happening if all the adults were making sure we were in class.

In second period, my teacher explained to us that last night, a threat against specific students was posted on an Internet site. These students were told to stay home. My classmate and I looked at each other, eyes wide. Hacienda Heights is a peaceful neighborhood where nothing ever goes wrong. Stuff like this wasn’t supposed to happen here.

Some students weren’t at school—students who were in my classes, students who were my friends. There were rumors that these absent students were probably on the hit list. Did something happen to them? Were they on the list? Why weren’t they here?

During the day a letter from the principal was read to us. It explained the situation and assured that we would be safe. Later, we were notified that school would be closed Friday and after-school activities would be postponed.

After school, my friends and I learned more. There were two threats posted. The first one said there would be a shooting at our school. It was removed, and a second threat was posted. I later searched for the threat but I couldn’t find the post because it had already been taken down. Instead, I found an image of it on the Whittier Daily News’ website. It read:

“You removed my last edit. I gave you a fair warning. Now the people listed in my previous edit will be victims in the Glen A. Wilson Shooting to occur this Friday. Your lack of attention to the seriousness of my warning will now be the reason as to why you will receive all fault of this event. Be prepared to have 33 families mourn the loss of their children and place a lawsuit upon your shoulders.”

I felt a chill running down my spine. It sounded like something awful could have happened. Yet, at the same time, I had doubts. Was the person who posted the threats really serious? Could he have actually done something like this? My friends and I were curious why someone would post something like this in the first place. Some of us didn’t want to know who had threatened these students. The person could have been a classmate, a lab partner or someone we encountered daily.

The next day, I got a call from my friend with good news. She told me that the guy who threatened the school had been arrested, but no one knew who it was. Because he was a minor, his name was not released. I didn’t care who it was—I was just glad that it was over.

On Monday at school one of my friends told me that she had been named on the hit list. She told me how scared she was. She said that Thursday morning before school there was a voicemail from the police.

“My heart was pumping,” she said. “The voicemail was very specific. It said, ‘Do not take your daughter to school today. This is for her safety.’”

The police told her to stay home that day and the next day. Detectives came to her house to ask her a few questions, then she was told to come to the police station to answer more questions. “That was the worst part of the whole experience,” she said.

She said one cop treated her very harshly. The cop said to her, “Who would do this to you? I can see it in your eyes. I can see you’re nervous. I know you know!”

The cop even asked her if she was the one who posted the threats.

“I was hysterical,” she said, “I couldn’t believe that she even asked me that.”

The next day, she went to the Buddhist temple.

“That’s how scared I was,” she said, “I’m not a religious person, and for me to go the temple and pray—that’s a crazy thing for me.”

Around 3 p.m. she got a call from her friend, who told her there had been an arrest.

“I was so mad that the police didn’t call. The arrest had been made at 11:30 a.m., and I had to find out from a friend about three hours later,” she said. “I was upset that I had worried for an extra three hours.”

It was frightening, but at the same time, many of us wondered how seriously we should take this threat. A lot of it seemed make-believe because stuff like this usually happened in the movies. The news was all over the media—we were on TV, in the newspapers and on the Internet. Our school’s name appeared on national headlines. This made everything seem more real and serious. Before, shootings like those at Virginia Tech and Columbine High School seemed unreal, but now I have a different perspective.

I think the school did the best they could to keep us safe. Everyone eventually found out what was going on and so I can’t say that we weren’t informed. Although I was scared, I don’t think I ever felt as if I was in danger. Many students are saying that the person behind the threat did not mean what he posted online. However, it’s too risky to ignore something like that. As scary as it sounds, I think something like this could have happened at any school. I’m not trying to scare anyone. All I’m saying is that we need to be safe and take threats seriously.