The Coast News Group
: Reports of gunfire May 15 near Hope Elementary School in Carlsbad turned out to be false. A truck backfired several times, but Carlsbad police responded to clear the area. The school was in lockdown and cleared and no injuries were reported. Photo by Steve Puterski
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BREAKING: Reports of gunfire puts scare into Hope Elementary

CARLSBAD — Reports of gunshots surfaced at about 9 a.m. May 15 forcing Hope Elementary School to lockdown.

However, once Carlsbad police arrived on scene within minutes, other reports and the department’s investigation concluded the suspicious noise was a truck repeatedly backfiring along Carlsbad Village Drive near Tamarack Avenue, according to Carlsbad Police Sgt. Shaun Lawton.

Once law enforcement officials shared the possible threat with school administrators, the school immediately went into lockdown at 9:25 a.m., according to Carlsbad Unified School District Superintendent Dr. Ben Churchill and the school’s website.

The lockdown was lifted at 10:40 a.m.

The students will return to their regular class schedule on May 16, Churchill said.

Students play on the playground at Hope Elementary School on May 15 after the school lifted a lockdown when reports of gunfire near the campus surfaced. Carlsbad police determined the cause of the noise was a truck backfiring.                  Photo by Steve Puterski



As for the perceived threat, Lawton said Carlsbad Police Department was called with numerous reports of possible gunshots or a truck backfiring.

Officers responded to a nearby canyon to search for a potential shooter, but other reports of the truck backfiring about every 50 feet was determined to be the ultimate cause.

The school resource officer remained on campus until the students were cleared. Carlsbad Police also deployed elements of its SWAT and Bearcat vehicle.

Also responding were the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department and its helicopter.

“The school did great. The kids did great,” Lawton said. It was very calm.”

Churchill said the school performs several lockdown drills per year, so how the staff and students responded is a credit to the drills and understanding of the situation.

The district is hyperaware of potential threats and focuses hard on school safety, especially after the 2010 shooting at Kelly Elementary School, he added.

“I’m extremely proud of the principal and staff at Hope Elementary for quickly going into lockdown after hearing suspicious sounds,” Churchill said. “I’m also incredibly proud of the Carlsbad police’s response. They were at school immediately and worked closely with our school leadership team and district leadership team.”