Armed Robbers Accost Oakland Tech Students On Campus

By Riya Bhattacharjee
Wednesday March 25, 2009 - 06:30:00 PM

Oakland Police have arrested two young men who robbed four students at gunpoint at Oakland Technological High School Tuesday morning, March 24. 

In a letter e-mailed to the school community, Oakland Tech Principal Sheilagh Andujar said that, although the incident had been “extremely disturbing,” nobody was injured, and the situation was diffused quickly. 

Located at 4351 Broadway Ave., Oakland Tech is one of six comprehensive public high school campuses in Oakland. Run by the Oakland Unified School District, the school gets students from several neighborhoods, including Oakland Chinatown, Rockridge and Temescal. 

Andujar said in her letter that two young men unaffiliated with Oakland Tech entered the school around 8 a.m.  

One of the men was carrying a gun, which was not in plain view. The two suspects later used the weapon to threaten four students to give up their possessions. 

Responding immediately to a distress call from a teacher, campus security was able to track the two men as they left the campus, passing on the information to Oakland police, who were able to arrest both suspects. 

The pair are currently in the custody of the Oakland Police Department.  

Law enforcement officials are investigating the situation along with the school and district administrations. 

Calls to the Oakland Police Department spokesperson for comment were not returned immediately. 

Andujar said in her e-mail that school staff and police checked on students following the incident.  

“Certainly some people were shaken by the incident, which is only natural, but I was extremely impressed by the composure both students and staff exhibited throughout the day and the cohesive response I witnessed in the Tech community,” said Oakland Unified spokesperson Troy Flint. “There was no real sense of panic, and, after the incident was addressed, school continued in relatively normal fashion.” 

Crisis counselors were also available on site throughout the day to provide additional support. 

“We are already working with law enforcement and the Tech community to continue to assess safety threats and promote school safety,” Andujar’s e-mail said. “As you know, we are a community at Oakland Tech and we welcome suggestions and comments with respect to this situation and all opportunities for improvement at our school. In the meantime, please know that my door is open and that we at Oakland Tech take this event and all matters affecting student safety with the utmost seriousness.” 

Flint said that although he did not have ready figures for the number of robberies that have occurred at Oakland Tech or Oakland Unified in the past, “Tech, while not without incident, is generally regarded as a safe campus.” 

“[It’s] a fact that staff members reaffirmed at a faculty meeting today,” he said. “That said, we as a district can certainly do more to improve school security generally and with respect to the specific situation on the Tech campus.” 

Security on campus had been beefed up following the incident, Flint said. 

“There was extra police presence throughout the day, and staff was asked to be especially alert,” he said. “In addition, we have begun the process of a threat assessment to determine potential security gaps or flaws in protocol. It’s extremely likely this will result in some changes that constrict campus access to a certain degree, but specific determinations have not been made at this time.” 

Authorities have directed the community to contact OUSD’s anonymous Tip Line at 532-4867 with any information that might suggest students or staff may be in danger.