BUSD: 2 Berkeley High students brought guns to school

At least one of the BHS students was arrested. BUSD said neither gun was brandished on campus. The investigation is ongoing.

BUSD: 2 Berkeley High students brought guns to school
Berkeley High students outside a school entrance on Milvia Street (file photo). Emilie Raguso/The Berkeley Scanner

Two Berkeley High students brought guns to school in their backpacks Wednesday, school officials have announced.

"I want to let you know of two serious incidents that occurred today at BHS and also reassure you that all students are safe," wrote BUSD Superintendent Enikia Ford Morthel and Tonia Coleman, interim Berkeley High principal, in an email to parents around 3:30 p.m.

Details were limited, but officials wrote that a Berkeley High student had been taken off campus and arrested by police earlier in the day.

"During a search of the student’s backpack, BPD found a firearm and the student was arrested," school officials said. "Upon further investigation by the Administration team, a second firearm was found in a backpack belonging to another student."

That second student was no longer on campus when administrators found the backpack containing the other gun, according to the email.

"BPD arrived, took possession of the backpack and is now pursuing the matter," school officials wrote.

The BUSD email did not indicate what time the incident began but described the response by school officials and police as "immediate, coordinated, and thorough."

The email also did not explain why police contacted the student in the first place or share any other details about the students or the guns they had.

The Scanner has asked Berkeley police and school officials for more information. This story will be updated if additional details are provided.

The officials called the incidents "deeply concerning" but said there was no information that either gun was brandished on the Berkeley High School campus.

"At this time we do not have evidence or reason to believe that there were threats made to anyone on campus," they wrote. "Still, any weapon in the possession of any person on our campus (outside of our School Resource Officer) is a threat to the safety and well-being of our school community."

The officials said BHS administrators and counselors were available for students seeking support. They also shared a list of mental health resources.

"It’s natural that incidents like these may bring up different feelings and emotions for students and staff, as well as community members who may be hearing this information," the officials wrote. "BUSD will continue to maintain very close contact with BPD during this investigation and will rely on their expertise as needed."

One parent told The Scanner that the email raised questions about what the students planned to do with the weapons.

"Guns at school raise the possibility of school shootings," he wrote. "The fact that there were two students with guns who were known to police makes you wonder if it was more than just a kid trying to be cool."

Another parent said she found the incident "very concerning."

"I hope we can find out what actions the school is going to take to address this," she said.

Berkeley High School has a Safety Committee that addresses campus safety concerns and publishes an annual safety plan.

As of this week, the committee's website and meeting schedule had not been updated for the 2023-24 school year.

The Scanner has asked the Berkeley Unified School District for any additional information that could be made available.

Citywide, Berkeley police have seized more than 50 guns this year during calls and investigations, according to BPD data.

That's fewer guns to date on average than the last two years in Berkeley but within range of historic averages from 2018-20.

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