Accident caused false alarm, school lockdown, authorities say |

Accident caused false alarm, school lockdown, authorities say

A pair of Nevada County sheriff’s deputies stand watch at the entrance of Nevada Union High School, which was placed on lockdown Friday morning after a reported false alarm occurred. Grass Valley police, Nevada City police, and California Highway Patrol officers blocked the entrances and exits to the school until the situation was cleared.
Photo: Elias Funez

An administrator mistakenly activated a button that triggered an emergency lockdown alarm system at Nevada Union High School Friday morning, authorities said.

The lockdown was lifted and the school campus reopened shortly afterward, after it was determined that there was no threat to anyone’s safety.

Around 10 a.m. Friday, the school went into a mandatory lockdown procedure in accordance with state guidelines after the emergency button had been activated, according to Brett McFadden, superintendent of the Nevada Joint Union High School District.

In response to the alarm, Nevada High School students and teachers locked themselves inside of their classrooms, windows were covered and blinds were shut, and the police were immediately called, McFadden said.

Law enforcement responded swiftly, with units arriving on campus from the Nevada County Sheriff’s Office, the Grass Valley Police Department, and California Highway Patrol.

Upon arrival, police secured a perimeter around the school, with officers covering all entrances and exits to the campus, and then conducted a room-by-room sweep of the high school itself, according to sheriff’s Lt. Jason Perry.

“We utilized officers from all three agencies and conducted a sweep of every classroom, every building on campus, we were in every single location,” Perry said. Around 20 law enforcement officers were involved in securing the campus, he added.


While school administrators were already aware that the lockdown had likely been triggered by a false alarm when law enforcement arrived, deputies still had to conduct a search of the premises, as it was unclear who had triggered the alarm and from where it had been activated, Perry said.

Police and school officials were initially concerned that the alarm may have been activated through a breach of some sort in the school’s internal security network, Perry added.

Once the entire school had been searched and law enforcement had verified there was no ascertainable threat present, the search was concluded and administrators ended the lockdown shortly after 11 a.m., Perry said.

Both Perry and McFadden said the lockdown process went smoothly, with students and staff remaining calm and following all protocols throughout the entire procedure.

Students in the Nevada Joint Union High School District are regularly drilled to be prepared for a variety of emergencies, including earthquakes, fires, and active shooter scenarios, McFadden said, and had just recently conducted one such drill a couple of weeks prior to this incident, he added.

“All of our protocols and procedures were performed in an outstanding manner. During the post-event check up and briefing we did after the lockdown, it appears that all teachers and students did what they were supposed to do,” McFadden said. “In fact, our students and staff were calmer than a lot of the folks talking about this on social media,” he added.

It appears as though the lockdown alarm sounded when a school administrator inadvertently pressed an emergency button that was mistakenly believed to have been inactive, McFadden said. He declined to go into specific details about how the lockdown system operates, citing security concerns.

The school district has been emphasizing active shooter drills recently in light of a rise in such events nationwide, and Friday’s incident illustrates the district’s preparedness for such a situation or any other emergency, McFadden said.

He added that school administrators were also relieved to find that the lockdown was not triggered by a cybersecurity breach of the district’s emergency network, as had initially been feared.

Stephen Wyer is a staff writer with The Union. He can be reached at

Police vehicles block one of the exits to Nevada Union High School during Friday morning’s lockdown.
Photo: Elias Funez



In response to the alarm, Nevada High School students and teachers locked themselves inside of their classrooms, windows were covered and blinds were shut, and the police were immediately called.
Photo: Elias Funez

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