A social media post warning of a school shooting at Long Beach Poly High School Wednesday morning prompted an investigation and heightened presence from the Long Beach Police Department.  Photos: Stephanie Rivera 

Reports of a possible school shooting being planned at Poly High circling around social media recently has prompted an investigation by police and an increase of law enforcement today on campus, school district officials said.

Long Beach Unified School District Superintendent Chris Steinhauser alerted students and parents to the rumors in an email early this morning.

“We have been alerted to unsubstantiated social media rumors that a possible shooting was planned to occur at Poly High School,” the email stated. “While these rumors are unsubstantiated, we take them seriously and are working with law enforcement to actively investigate. You will see additional law enforcement presence at the school today. We appreciate those who alerted us.Your students will be safe and protected at school.”

LBUSD spokesman Chris Eftychiou said additional school safety officers and local police are at the campus.

The threats come one week to the day after a school shooting at a Florida High School left 17 students and employees dead on Valentine’s Day. This morning, students at multiple Florida high schools staged walkouts to protest politicians’ refusal to debate stronger gun control measures.  

A march is scheduled on Saturday, March 24 in Long Beach as part of a nationwide call to action “against the prioritization of guns over people’s lives”. 

The email sent by Steinhauser came hours after parents discovered an Instagram post on Tuesday warning students not to attend school because of a possible school shooting.

Once they were made aware, detectives started investigating the threat right away and worked through the night, said Long Beach Police Department spokesman Sgt. Brad Johnson.

“The preliminary investigation found no credible threat to Long Beach Poly High School,” Johnson said. “The Police Department is working closely with LBUSD, and there will be increased police presence on Long Beach high school campuses, to ensure that students feel safe in their educational environment.”

A marked police cruiser is parked in front Poly High Wednesday morning while an unmarked police vehicle is parked on the grass.

Kim Lachance, who has two sons and a nephew who attend Poly High, said she was alerted to the post late last night by another mom. Soon, parents were texting each other and teachers and administrators.

While additional police presence was seen on campus this morning, Lachance said she and other parents would like to see more done like having active shooter or lockdown drills, an anonymous tip line in place, searching backpacks or even the possibility of metal detectors.

“I just found it deeply concerning that if there’s a protocol in place for how to respond to these types of situations—whether the threat is real or not—I think parents need to know that their kids are safe and need additional assurance,” Lachance told the Post.

Lachance said only one of her sons chose to go to school today.

“How do you look your kid in the face and send them to school if you are not totally sure of how the school is going to ensure their safety?” she said.

Mollie Bennett’s 11th grade son also chose to stay home today.

“I can’t blame him,” Bennett told the Post. “I believe very strongly that these are unsubstantiated rumors and I know the police presence is there but there’s still this idea that ‘Wow this is our reality now? How often is this gonna happen? How onguard do we need to be?’.”

Bennett attended Poly High in the late 80s and said she remembers the gang violence then.

“There was police presence there too but that doesn’t mean there’s not something coming in in someone’s jacket or backpack, just like in other places,” Bennett said.

Ultimately, Bennett, like Lachance, would like to see a clearer understanding of protocols for parents, students and teachers including lockdown drills and accessing information.

“I want our kids and our teachers to know and have confidence in what the protocol is for these situations,” Bennett said. “Our poor teachers… now we’re asking them to be security and weapons experts? It’s crazy.”

Anyone with information regarding a threat to a school is asked to call LBPD immediately by dialing 9-1-1, or (562) 435-6711 for a non-emergency.

Stephanie Rivera covers immigration and the north, west and central parts of Long Beach. Reach her at [email protected] or on Twitter at @StephRivera88.

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