Updates on Campus Safety’s safety advisory note, Classes resume in person Nov. 29

Carrollyne Aasen, Editor in Chief

Note: An email has been sent out to the Cal Lutheran community regarding classes for Tuesday Nov. 29, please check your emails for more information. 

On Sunday, Nov. 27 at 1:12 a.m. the California Lutheran University community received a safety advisory note from Campus Safety about a potential school shooting threat it was monitoring. The university was notified by the Los Angeles Police Department about a handwritten note threatening a school shooting on Nov. 27 at 6 a.m. at four universities in the Los Angeles area, including Cal Lutheran. This note was given to LAPD during its patrol of the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum on Saturday, Nov. 26. 

The safety advisory note said LAPD was still determining the credibility of the threat, but the university wanted to inform the Cal Lutheran community about the action the university is taking after being notified of the potential threat. 

“We have received no updates from LAPD. TOPD [Thousand Oaks Police Department] will be in touch with them as necessary and vice versa,” President Lori Varlotta said in an email interview at 2:09 p.m. on Nov. 27.

Pepperdine University’s student publication The Graphic published an article on Nov. 27 after receiving a similar notification from LAPD. The reporter, Samantha Torre, said a patron found the note at a game between University of Southern California and Notre Dame University Saturday, Nov. 26 at the LA Memorial Coliseum. Pepperdine and LAPD do not view this note as a “‘highly credible threat,’” according to the email sent out by Pepperdine’s Department of Emergency Services.

Similarly, the University of Redland’s student news publication The Redland Bulldogs published an article on Nov. 28, which said the LAPD “has analyzed the note and concluded that it is ‘inconsistent with a credible threat.'”

As of Nov. 28 at 9:33 a.m., Varlotta has not replied to an inquiry about whether Cal Lutheran was told the same by the LAPD. 

Also included in Cal Lutheran’s initial safety advisory note was that Campus Safety has been in contact with TOPD, who are aware of the threat and have increased patrols on campus.

Varlotta said, “The police has and will continue to monitor and assess the situation.”

According to Varlotta, TOPD’s patrols began late Nov. 26 and continued through Nov. 27. Varlotta said these patrols will continue in the coming days.

“Our police colleagues there have been extraordinarily helpful and responsive,” Varlotta said. “We are thankful for their expertise and partnership.” 

An update on the safety advisory was sent to the Cal Lutheran community at 1:20 p.m. on Nov. 27. 

The update said, “There has been no suspicious activity on our campus, nor on any of the other three campuses that were threatened.”

Additionally, this update said the university would resume normal business operations the afternoon of Nov. 27 and would continue requiring the use of ID cards to enter locked buildings on campus. Varlotta said the use of ID cards would continue until further notice. 

“We will continue to keep the campus updated on any new information. For the time being, we will rely on the alert system,” Varlotta said. 

Varlotta said that community members should check their Cal Lutheran emails regularly. 

As of 9:33 a.m. on Nov. 28, Campus Safety has not responded to a follow-up email about the situation.

In an email interview at 5:03 p.m. on Nov. 27, Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Leanne Neilson said, “Students who are seeking support can reach out to CAPS, the CARE Team, or any Student Affairs staff member.” 

At 8:30 p.m. on Nov. 27, Director of the Emergency Operations Center and Associate Vice President of Operations and Planning Ryan Van Ommeren sent out an email that said there will be virtual classes and remote work on Monday, Nov. 28.

“Although Cal Lutheran has no information that substantiates the threat, we have decided to take the above measures out of an abundance of care,” Van Ommeren said in the email. “We hope to return to in-person classes and on-campus work on Tuesday. Your safety remains our highest priority, and we will provide updates as new information becomes available.”

At 12:32 p.m. on Nov. 28, Associated Students of California Lutheran University President Gregory Pimentel said in an email interview that he reached out Varlotta, Neilson and Vice President for Student Affairs & Dean of Students at 5 p.m. “expressing the student concerns and made the formal request to have classes cancelled for the day.”

Pimentel said a brief exchange on the phone took place at about 6 p.m. on Sunday, Nov. 27, where the initial request to have classes cancelled for the day was denied, but ultimately agreed on virtual classes for the day. Pimentel also said that the decision was made with Campus Safety’s input as well.

“Most of the concerns from students had to deal with their safety. There was a lack of information being provided at the time about the threat and its credibility. So, most students were giving feedback that they would be very uncomfortable with attending in person classes,” Pimentel said in an email at 4:51 p.m. on Nov. 28.

On Nov. 28 at 3:46 p.m., Van Ommeren sent an email that said, “Following consultation with multiple law enforcement agencies, including the Thousand Oaks Police Department, we have decided to resume normal operations and instruction tomorrow, November 29.”

Van Ommeren said TOPD will continue their increased patrols.

Additionally, this email said that “all buildings (on all campuses) regularly opened to students and staff would open tomorrow.”

Chandrea Miller, director of university communications, said in a Zoom interview the choice to move classes online was not because the police department advised a change due to an imminent threat, but rather to do what felt “feasible and sound”.

“This was not because local law enforcement or anyone told us there was an imminent threat and that we should close down, it was us who decided out of an abundance of care to move to virtual. We just wanted to be very sensitive to our students and just be very cautious. There was no intel, there was nothing that came in that led us to do that,” Miller said.

Miller said the unsettling nature of this event has led the university to move forward with caution. Miller also said there will be increased patrolling as law enforcement continues their ongoing investigation. Classes are set to return to in person instruction on Tuesday, Nov. 29, and no additional information about who issued the threat has been released as of 7:58 p.m. on Monday, Nov. 28. 

Officer Mike Lopez from the Media Relations Division of LAPD said in a phone interview, “It was brought to our attention Saturday at around 8 p.m. at the Los Angeles Coliseum during the USC football game that a note was located somewhere in the coliseum.”

Lopez said that based on the findings and the verbiage of the note, LAPD took an investigative report and notified Major Crimes Division, who handles these types of situations or incidents, as well as the Joint Regional Intelligence Center, who “provides information to all the different partners between federal, state and local enforcement and public safety issues agencies.”

We are aware of the incident and we will keep in touch with local, federal, and state partners that we have with the JRIG…to make sure that there is no other issues. At this time, this is an investigation that has continued and stayed open with us,” Lopez said. 

Lopez said that through the JRIG Center the universities “were notified right away.”

This is an investigation that detectives will go ahead to find to see if any–they’ll do everything they need to do in their power to try to find out who is responsible for the note, where the note came from,” Lopez said. 

This article was updated at 9:42 p.m. on Nov. 29 to include information from Pimentel and Lopez.