Students at an elite LAUSD school, Wonderland Elementary, were put on lockdown today due to police activity at a neighborhood house. The school is nestled in the hip Lauren Canyon area of Los Angeles popular with the Hollywood crowd, and the children of many actors, producers, entertainment executives and talent representatives attend Wonderland Elementary and Wonderland Gifted Magnet, which share a campus.
“Based on police activity in the neighborhood we have been asked by the LAPD to engage in a lockdown,” the school’s Principal Sean Teer wrote on the Wonderland Facebook page earlier today. “All students and staff are safe inside and behind locked doors. The incident is not on the campus but at a home very near the school. The School Police are actually on campus in response to the incident.”
Many in Hollywood who have kids at the school took to email or social media to discuss the situation, describing big police presence around and at the school, including multiple police cars and a helicopter. Officer Luis Garcia of LAPD Media Relations was not aware of another lockdown at the school but according to parents, there also were police cars around the same house — situated directly across from Wonderland Elementary and overlooking the school yard — on Friday when students were asked not to leave their rooms for recess. Some parents shared deep concerns about a possible ongoing threat.
“The lockdown at Wonderland Elementary was lifted at around 1 PM after a man with possible mental issues who lives across the street from the school was arrested for abusing the 911 emergency call system,” Garcia told Deadline about today’s events. According to Garcia, the 911 call from the man came in at 11:48 AM. He was not threatening the school, Garcia noted, but was tying up the 911 line, saying he was going to call the FBI for an unknown reason, periodically stopping to play the piano and refusing to hang up the phone. Officers were sent to the man’s home and the school was put on lockdown while officers repeatedly attempted to get the man to come out of his house. After about an hour, the man emerged from the home and was arrested for investigation of abusing the 911 call system. He has been placed on a psychiatric hold for mental evaluation.
Garcia stressed that the school was placed on lockdown as a precaution, since it wasn’t known if the man had weapons. According to parents, the person in question is a gun owner (it is unclear if he is in possession of any weapons), and they are struggling with the dilemma whether to send their kids to school on Thursday when he is expected to return home. Some are reportedly so worried, they are considering keeping their children home while the person remains at the house.
The situation, believed to involve a man whose child previously has attended Wonderland Elementary, has rattled the neighborhood, triggering a notification to residents Monday by Senior Lead Officer Ralph Sanchez, LAPD Hollywood Division, which assured them that “the children at Wonderland Elementary were never in any danger today” and asking “residents and parents need to avoid the area for their own safety and the safety of the officers on the scene.”
Wonderland Elementary is one of the top–performing schools in LAUSD. It became the only public school in the district to be named a 2016 National Blue Ribbon School , an honor given to 300 schools nationwide.