Classes were cancelled in schools in Hayfork due to a threat from former student.
39-year-old Robert Daniel Watkins was planning revenge on the school after reportedly being accused of purchasing alcohol for minors.
The school received a phone call around 6:30 a.m. from one of Watkins’ relatives and Principal Michelle Hutchins did not hesitate to make sure that her students remained in a safe place.
The school was evacuated immediately.
“We posted staff at the entrances of the school so that the students that were being transported by parents were [sent back] home,” says Hayfork High School Principal Michelle Hutchins.
Sheriff Bruce Haney said that the Trinity County Sheriff’s Dept. has dealt with Watkins before. He said he is glad the school got the phone call.
Sheriff Haney said that Watkins’ relative called and said that Robert Watkins was upset about the alcohol incident and told the relative that he had several firearms and that he was going to “shoot up” Hayfork High School.
Students riding the school bus were diverted to the Trinity County Fairgrounds so their parents could pick them up. Those who had to walk home were also taken care of.
“These students were immediately brought into a lockdown area, a safe area on the school [grounds] where we brought a special school bus to pick them up and escort them to the safe zone,” said Principal Hutchins.
The Trinity County Sheriff’s Office took Robert Watkins into custody after they found him walking along Highway 3. Officials said Watkins appears to be a transient with a history of mental health problems.
Several of Watkins’ former classmates from Hayfork High School confirmed his history of mental illness and also mentioned that he was not always that way.
The Trinity County Sheriff’s Office said that the investigation is ongoing. The next step, they say, will be a search around Watkins’ campsite.