Last week, Los Angeles school police officer Jeff Stenroos was rushed to the hospital after he reported he had been shot outside El Camino Real High School. He had been wearing a bullet-proof vest and arrived at the hospital conscious and talking.
El Camino Real High School, nearby Hale Middle School and seven other schools were immediately put on lockdown while police searched the area for a suspect fitting the description Stenroos gave them. The assailant was allegedly carrying a semi-automatic weapon. For hours, no one was allowed in or out of a 7-square-mile area. No arrests were ever made — until today.
Stenroos himself has been charged with the crime.
Yesterday, the 8-year veteran of the LA Unified School District police force admitted to investigators that it was all a hoax. He had shot himself.
LAUSD Superintendent Ramon Cortines is outraged, as are leaders of the LA school police force. Cortines apologized to the children and families of the school district. Paul M. Weber, president of the LA Police Protective Leagues, called Stenroos a disgrace.
According to the Los Angeles Times, Stenroos has been booked on one felony count of filing a false police report. He was released today on $20,000 bail.
Besides costing the city resources for an unnecessary man-hunt, the incident also brought criticism to the school district. Students were locked in their classrooms until 6 o’clock that evening. Parents were outraged when they found out that their kids weren’t allowed to go to the bathroom and instead had to pee in a contractor bucket. The only food available was whatever some kids were carrying in their backpack.
This incident happened but days after an accidental school shooting in nearby Gardena. A student was hospitalized in critical condition after a classmate’s gun accidentally fired from inside a backpack.
The rogue officer has been removed from the school police force and the process of firing him has begun.