San Mateo police are increasing their presence at several schools this week after a man-made school shooting threats at a Big 5 Sporting Goods store on Friday. There are more than 30 schools in the county and police have been in touch with most of them, according to police Sgt. Amanda Von Glahn.
Von Glahn said the threat was non-specific and there is no immediate danger to schools, so they have not asked campuses to shelter in place or go under lockdowns. Campuses can decide what they feel is appropriate, she said. St. Gregory School is one campus that instituted a voluntary shelter-in-place today. Von Glahn did not specify how many police officers will be present at schools, but some public schools already have campus police who rotate across the district.
Von Glahn said police set up a game plan with several schools over the weekend and the police presence will persist through the week. Because the threat is not immediate, police have not activated the “Big Five” emergency protocol. The program outlines five different alert levels and is used across in schools the country.
In what they described as “an abundance of caution,” San Mateo police asked on Friday for the public’s help in identifying the suspect. A customer at the Big 5 Sporting Goods store on South El Camino Real called police around 5:50 p.m. saying he overheard another customer tell an employee he wanted to purchase a firearm and shoot up a school, asking the clerk for a good shirt to wear. The employee did not sell a gun to the man, according to police. Officers responded within minutes and searched the store, but they didn’t find the man.
According to police, the witnesses didn’t find the man’s statements to be credible. He is described as a white man who is about 35 years old and wore a camouflage sweatshirt and blue jeans. Police believe the man is a transient and they are working with several local agencies to find him. He was last seen walking north on El Camino Real.
Anyone with information is asked to call 911 or the San Mateo police dispatch center at (650) 522-7700.
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