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False 911 call causes UTEP, other El Paso schools to go into lockdown

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A public statement from the El Paso Police Department (EPPD) claims that the 9-1-1 call they received Thursday morning, Nov. 18, reporting a “suicidal suspect on drugs with a weapon” threatening violence against local schools were false, KTSM reports. 

Multiple school districts, college campuses and various learning facilities, including UTEP, were among the locations threatened by the suspect, prompting an emergency response by authorities that included increased surveillance around the targeted areas and schools electing to enter lockdown. 

An initial response to the situation was issued by UTEP at 7:08 a.m.: 

“Dangerous Situation – EPPD advises that a suicidal suspect on drugs with weapon is on his way to UTEP, shelter in place.” 

“I did get the first message the school sent… I thought everything would be resolved when I got to campus, but everything was closed and I saw some students walking around, I’m guessing a bit confused like me,” said Belen Briseno, a graphic design major at UTEP. “I didn’t see any campus police while I was outside. I didn’t feel so safe when I saw the message, but a teacher saw me and let me inside the building, so I was calmed.” 

Following further delays of instruction and campus activities, students received an “all-clear” message at 12:11 p.m. It was announced shortly after that the campus would remain closed, and all instruction should be carried out remotely for the day. 

According to a press release from The City of El Paso and EPPD, all security measures taken by the schools were entirely the decision of the institutions themselves and all relevant information concerning the threat was relayed to them in a timely manner. 

“I think it was appropriate to shelter in place, it’s better to be safe,” said Briseno. “I don’t think they could have none more to warn us.” 

“In this case there was a threat that we (EPPD) were investigating, and notifications were done as typical with any threat,” said Sgt. Javier Sambrano of the EPPD. “The investigation revealed the call to be false.  A press release was posted on with that information.” 

Christopher Telles, a graduate student in communication at UTEP, expressed dismay at how closely an event of this kind compromised UTEP’s security and halted operations, referring to the Oct. 29 shelter-in-place order after two suspects hid from authorities in the UTEP Union Cinema. He believes that an improved method of communicating with the student body is necessary for anyone on campus to feel comfortable enough to fully embrace the return to in-person instruction. 

“This [shutdown] could happen every day,” Telles said. “They’re [UTEP] going to have to figure out a better protocol if they expect a bigger physical enrollment and attendance moving forward, especially after COVID-19 kept everyone away for so long.”  

A UTEP University spokesperson said they have no response at this time. 

This investigation is ongoing and anyone with information about the person suspected of making the false call should contact Crime Stoppers of El Paso at 566-8477(TIPS). 

More details to follow. 

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False 911 call causes UTEP, other El Paso schools to go into lockdown