The following is Freedom High School Principal Erik Faulkner's description of the events that unfolded the day that rumors predicting violence on the Oakley campus reached their climax.

He arrives at school earlier than usual and for a few minutes all is calm.

But shortly after 7:30 a.m. he notices an unusual level of activity at the front desk: Phones have started ringing off the hook and parents are coming in to announce that they are keeping their child out of school that day.

"At that point I knew I had to get a message out to our community," Faulkner said.

He hastily composes an email to parents assuring them that the rumors are unfounded and the campus not only is safe but has an added police presence.

"We were the safest place outside of Fort Knox," he later said. "It was the perfect day to rob a bank because (the police) were all here." Faulkner tries to send the same message by voice mail but can't get an outside line -- they're all jammed -- so he resorts to using his cell phone to get the word out before classes start at 8:15 a.m.

Faulkner spends the next 40 minutes talking to parents who have congregated outside, trying to allay their concerns.

Upon returning to his office, Faulkner finds 21 new messages on his phone; the most messages he'd ever had until then was five.

Around 9:15 a.m. the situation takes a sharp turn for the worse: Faulkner gets a call from a teacher saying two students thought they had seen a kid showing off a gun tucked in his waistband.


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School officials interview the teens, who can't provide a name but offer a physical description of the boy.

Faulkner emails a confidential memo to all teachers asking them to contact him immediately if they think they have that student in their class.

But as an office worker checks off employees' names on a list as they open the email, it becomes clear that the word's not getting out fast enough.

The next bell is scheduled to ring at 9:38 a.m. and Faulkner knows he can't wait.

"I have eight minutes to make decision whether to allow kids to be dismissed and go on to their next class (and exposing them to a potential threat) or keep them in class while we do a search," he said.

With 12 police officers and about as many administrators crowding his office, Faulkner has the passing bell turned off and announces over the loudspeaker that students are to remain in their classrooms while authorities conduct a search.

Police Chief Bani Kollo summons three deputies from the county sheriff's marine services unit, and for the next 70 minutes pairs of officers and administrators go classroom to classroom canvassing the entire campus.

By day's end, however, authorities still have no concrete evidence that any student has threatened to use a firearm.

Investigators narrowed their search to one youth who matched most of the physical descriptors, but multiple interviews with the student along with a search of his house and car yielded nothing, Faulkner said.

Moreover, the witnesses' stories contained conflicting details, and two girls who were talking with the teen in question at the time he purportedly revealed his weapon refuted their stories, he said.

As to who posted the first online comment that ignited the furor in cyberspace, authorities traced anecdotal information to the Twitter account of a former student. However, there's no way to prove that he personally tweeted the rumors or was even the first to do so, Faulkner said.

Contact Rowena Coetsee at 925-779-7141. Follow her on Twitter.com/RowenaCoetsee.