Breaking News
More () »

Parents question handling of suspicious package at Boulder Creek High School

Parents are questioning whether Boulder Creek High School was prepared after reports of a suspicious backpack created a chaotic scene on campus Thursday.

PHOENIX — Parents are questioning whether Boulder Creek High School was prepared after reports of a suspicious backpack created a chaotic scene on Thursday.

Inside the school’s cafeteria, cell phone video showed students running for their lives thinking there was an active shooter.

There wasn’t.

The school was, however, on lockdown after Maricopa County Sheriff Deputies were dispatched to a report of a suspicious package. In a letter to parents, Boulder Creek High School Principal Brittany Sutton described the package as, “a backpack that may be a bomb in an English classroom.”

The letter also said BCHS immediately locked down and evacuated students in buildings with an English classroom to the football field.

Deputies completed a search without finding a suspicious package, and classes resumed shortly after. But the evacuation was less than orderly and nerves were frayed.

“Once the table fell – which that’s what they believe it was – it sounded like gunshots which caused complete panic. It was just complete chaos,” said one Boulder Creek High School parent whose child was in the cafeteria at the time.

The parent – who is choosing to remain anonymous out of fear of backlash toward their child – became concerned after their son sent a text message no parent is ever prepared to receive.

“HELP ME,” the text said. “There’s a shooting.”

When the parent arrived at the school, they saw students trying to escape. Video from their car’s dashcam shows students jumping over fences.

"The teachers and the principal had no organization for the whole event,” the parent said. “It was traumatizing.”

In her letter to parents, Sutton said that during the lockdown and partial evacuation, “some students elected to run off-campus, which is dangerous behavior and could put them in potential harm’s way.”

But in Sutton’s email response to this anonymous parent – questioning the school’s handling of the lockdown – she says “students (in the cafeteria) saw students moving to the football field and pushed past staff at the doors as they ran in panic.”

The school is also looking into reports that “students had popped bags of chips and announced statements that created panic,” according to Sutton’s email to the parent.

“We are thoroughly investigating and will be reviewing all procedures with staff and also students. This situation should not have occurred in this manner,” Sutton said in the email.

The Deer Valley School District provided the following statement to 12News:

“Safety of students and staff is the number one priority for Boulder Creek High School (BCHS) and the Deer Valley Unified School District.

Yesterday, MSCO notified BCHS about a phone call of a bomb threat with a specific location on campus. Students and staff in two buildings near that location were safely evacuated to the football field.

The cafeteria was then locked down so students who were having lunch wouldn’t go back to class near the threat location. The students at lunch saw other students being evacuated and became confused about the situation.

While we regularly practice lockdowns and evacuations, we rarely practice them at the same time. This is something we are reviewing to make sure students understand this situation can occur.

No staff members in the cafeteria or elsewhere told students to run out of the cafeteria.

The administration received no reports of injuries during this incident.”

MCSO is investigating the source of the original suspicious package call.

The situation left the anonymous parent with serious concerns.

“Shame on that school for the way they handled it,” the parent said. 

“Hopefully, they can learn from it.”

Up to Speed

Catch up on the latest news and stories on the 12 News YouTube channel. Subscribe today.

Before You Leave, Check This Out