Chaos erupts outside Jefferson High School following false report of shooting

A large law enforcement response followed an unsubstantiated report of a shooting at the school

A large law enforcement response followed an unsubstantiated report of a shooting at the school

An unsubstantiated threat caused a lockdown and major law enforcement response at Jefferson High School on the West Side Tuesday afternoon, with one parent injured during the chaos after several people rushed to the campus.

In the early afternoon, following an altercation at the school, a report of a weapon on campus was made to SAPD, according to school officials.

“Parents, we wanted to immediately alert you that there was a report of a shooting, but we can confirm that there is no evidence that one has occurred,” read an alert on the SAISD website.

According to a statement from the San Antonio Police Department around 2:25 p.m., “the school has been cleared and is deemed safe. Students can be picked up at the front of the school off of Donaldson Avenue. SAISD PD will begin reunification of the students and families. Please contact SAISD for further information.”

With students and parents on edge months after a shooting at Uvalde, many parents rushed to the school’s main entrance as the lockdown was lifted hoping to get their children.

SAISD Superintendent Jaime Aquino said parents were understandably anxious for their children to be released, but staff could not come out to inform them what was happening since the lockdown was ongoing.

Chief Johnny Reyes, with the SAISD Police Department, said one parent got highly upset with officers and punched a window.

“The stress of the situation got to him,” Reyes said.

The parent’s arm had a laceration, and officers quickly applied a tourniquet to stop the bleeding, according to the chief.

Aquino said staff members followed standard operating procedures to ensure students and staff were safe during the lockdown while SAISD police worked to clear the threat.

“We were not going to send them away until it was clear,” Aquino said.

Reyes said while SAISD police was in charge of the scene, they worked in a unified response with San Antonio PD to clear the threat.

Aquino said he understands parents’ frustrations and believes more comprehensive training is needed with the community, so that parents could know what they need to do in case of a lockdown situation.

“You need to trust us that we have all the protocols in place... Let us control the situation,” he said.

Aquino said SAISD had a safety town hall several weeks ago that could help parents understand the district’s safety protocols. He encouraged parents to watch the replay on the district’s website.

The superintendent said the district will be doing more with its communication to explain the protocols to families.

Aquino thanked SAISD police and San Antonio PD, as well as response staff, for ensuring that procedures were followed and students were safe.

“We need to celebrate the fact that we were able to handle this so quickly, and with no serious consequences,” he said.

A student told KSAT reporter Courtney Friedman what he saw and heard during the lockdown from inside. He said his class barricaded the door with desks and chairs. He said his teacher grabbed a wooden stick, and they stayed away from the door.

“Just cops, helicopters, sirens. I stayed pretty calm. I know a lot of kids were worried. I guess a lot of people were just scared,” he said.

Friedman asked the student if the response to the lockdown was part of what they practiced and if they knew what to do.

“Yes, ma’am,” the student answered.

When asked if he felt safe in school, the student said, “Yeah, I feel safe.”

KSAT reporter Leigh Waldman stayed with mom Audrey Cardenas as she waited to be reunited with her 17-year-old son Christopher Coriles.

Cardenas was upset her son’s phone was taken away, and she couldn’t get in contact with him during the lockdown.

“I couldn’t get a hold of him and if it was an active shooter, what if he was one that got shot and I wouldn’t have known,” Cardenas said.

Christopher Coriles explained he was prepared on what to do during the lockdown but the whole situation will stick with him.

“It was just crazy, like, I don’t know what happened. I’m confused. Everybody’s out here, everybody’s scared,” Coriles said.

A similar situation — an unsubstantiated threat and a massive law enforcement response — occurred at New Braunfels High School earlier this month.

Aquino issued the following letter to parents and students on Wednesday:

An unsubstantiated threat caused a lockdown and major law enforcement response at Jefferson High School on the West Side Tuesday afternoon.

About the Authors:

Courtney Friedman is a KSAT anchor and reporter. She has an ongoing series called Loving in Fear, confronting Bexar County’s domestic violence epidemic. She's also covered Hurricane Harvey, the shootings in Sutherland Springs and Santa Fe, and tornadoes throughout Texas. She’s a California native and proud Longhorn who loves calling SA home.

Kolten Parker is digital executive producer at KSAT. Previously, he worked at the San Antonio Express-News and the Texas Observer.