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article imageNewark Memorial Locked Down, Interview with One of the Students Special

By Casey DeVargas     Sep 30, 2009 in Crime
Early today, Newark Memorial High School was locked down at 11AM when police found a teen near campus with a loaded gun.
According to Mercury News Police were called to the campus at 39375 Cedar Blvd. about 11:15 a.m. to respond to a disturbance. When officers arrived, a group of about four to seven people scattered, some of them onto campus, said Newark police Commander Bob Douglas. One of the people was immediately detained, and he was found to be carrying a loaded weapon, Douglas said.
As a former student of Newark Memorial, I was shocked to hear the news. I knew the school was going downhill with overcrowding, but never did I think I’d hear about a locked down happening due to an armed intruder.
To make matters worse, my brother, Jaime DeVargas, was at the school at the time of the lock down and I had no way to get in contact with him. Luckily, in the end, nobody got hurt.
I was able to ask my brother a few questions about the incident.
Tell us a little about yourself.
My name is Jaime DeVargas, and I’m a 12th grader at Newark Memorial.
What were you doing before the lockdown?
I was in my third period class, which was English 4, and we were doing a group project where we had to draw a poster off a story we had read; Beowulf. It was around 11AM when the alarm went off. It was a siren alarm, sounded like an ambulance or one of those British police sirens. Most of the classes, including mine, didn’t think it was real because we had a fire drill the day before at around the same time.
What happened after the alarm went off?
People just kind of sat around, not really knowing what to do. We went under our desks and turned off the lights, but we did it real slowly, since we didn’t know it was real. We weren’t in panic mode or anything.
Then the announcements came. They said “Students, this is not a drill” and right then we knew something was going on. So we turned off all the lights and locked the doors. Some people made a barrier.
Against the door?
No, we kind of had it… we made a barrier using the desks. We had them angled at the windows. We did this in case someone shot through the window we would have some sort of protection.
We also covered the window with paper so people can’t look in and passers-by would think it was an empty class. There was a little opening in the window so we can see out in case SWAT came, which they did later on.
For the most part most people were pretty calm. Some people were freaked out.
[At this point on TV, a local news station briefly covers the story for a short while before cutting to another topic.]
[Laughs] See how quickly they switch stories? The news media never really cares about anything unless there’s a death involved.
So, you were covering the windows…
Right. For the most part it was pretty dark. Some people started texting their parents; telling them what happened. I had forgotten my phone, which is something I never do. I used someone’s phone to tell my mom that everything was okay. She didn’t know what was going on at the time and I didn’t tell her much because I didn’t want to worry her.
Then what happened?
Then my friend and I started playing cards and stuff under the desk. We had heard that SWAT had arrived and we were playing until they came for us.
So my friend showed me information about what had happened. He got a friend to find some stuff on the news. We didn’t know what happened at the time, just that an intruder was on campus. Apparently, there were four people- they think there were four- they didn’t come to do a school shooting, they were trying to escape the police and ran into our campus to hide. Some think that they came to the school to get some students as hostages, but as we now know there weren’t any accidents or deaths or anything, so who knows what they were doing.
What happened after SWAT arrived?
They started to clear us out of the rooms. They took us to the event center, which is basically the new gym. They had us sit in our classes and take us out in groups of twenty when our parents showed up. Basically they had our parents sign us out and we went home.
Do you have to go back to school tomorrow?
Yeah, we’re going to have to go back tomorrow. Our water polo practice was canceled and we still have a game the next day.
I also forgot a couple of my books and binders for school in my locker, since we weren’t allowed to get them. I also have my car on campus; they wouldn’t let us leave with it.
Thanks for your time.
My pleasure.
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