Jenell Schwab
North Lake Tahoe Bonanza

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April 30, 2012
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Truckee schools lock down as police search for, arrest gunman in area

TRUCKEE, Calif. — Many of Truckee’s public schools were in a precautionary lockdown early Monday afternoon while police searched for and eventually apprehended a gunman who fired a shot in the area.

Truckee Police arrested the gunman — identified as Robert Maklia of Penn Valley, Calif. — near the corner of Donner Pass Road and Richards Boulevard at about 12:30 p.m. Maklia’s exact age is unclear, although police said he was born in 1946.

Police initially received a call about a possible armed man at about 11:30 a.m., said Truckee Police Capt. Harwood Mitchell.

Officers located Maklia sitting in his parked vehicle on Richards. According to police, Maklia exited his vehicle with a handgun in his hand. He refused to drop the gun and sought refuge behind his vehicle.

Maklia eventually fired one shot while hiding behind the vehicle, in a direction Mitchell said was undetermined, but not toward officers, before laying down his handgun on the pavement.

Maklia then approached officers against their objections, Mitchell said. Officers disabled Maklia with a non-lethal bean bag round and arrested him. Mitchell described Maklia as “distraught.”

Maklia was transported to Tahoe Forest Hospital for medical clearance. According to Truckee Police, he will be charged with reckless discharge of a firearm and brandishing a weapon to law enforcement. Officers with California Highway Patrol, Nevada County Sheriff’s Office and California State Parks assisted.

The intersection is located about .4 miles to the west of Truckee High School, and Truckee Elementary School is approximately .2 miles away.

Though the Truckee Police Department only requested those two schools be locked down, Tahoe Truckee Unified School District officials also decided to implement lockdowns at Sierra Continuation High School, Sierra Expeditionary Learning School and TTUSD administrative offices, said Superintendent Robert Leri.

“It happened so quickly,” said Leri. “While the message to parents was being written, the lockdown was lifted.”

According to the school district, police informed the schools to lock down at about noon; they were notified at about 12:30 p.m. the lockdown could be lifted.

A message notifying parents of the lockdown and its lifting was sent to email addresses and phone numbers provided to the district by parents. The announcement was also translated into Spanish, which slightly delayed the notification to Spanish speaking parents.

Though each school has a variation of alarm bells and alert systems, the lockdown procedure requires teachers and students lock themselves in a secure classroom, close and lock the windows and draw the shades, Leri said. The schools drill regularly for such incidents.

“The teachers have classroom management to keep the students calm,” said Leri. “But this one was so short, they probably didn't have time to implement these practices.”

According to a Monday afternoon statement from the school district, Mitchell informed TTUSD officials that students were not in danger. However, because it was lunch/recess hour, there were students outside on the playground and it was considered a risk.

Leri said students in the cafeteria and on the playground at Truckee Elementary were alerted and mobilized into secure rooms within five minutes. Students at the high schools had not been released for their lunch break yet; had the lockdown lasted into the meal period, Leri said the release bell would not have rung.

STEP, a child care and teen parenting program at Sierra Continuation, was also secured, Leri said.

“Each school responded very appropriately and implemented the procedures they had been trained and practiced,” said Leri. “I'm impressed at how quickly the students were in secure rooms and how professional the staff was.”

According to TTUSD, the procedure to release the classrooms required school officials to go from room to room and physically unlock each classroom with a key. A more detailed, district-wide message will be sent out later Monday to follow up and to inform parents of the incident, officials said.

— Bonanza Managing Editor Kevin MacMillan contributed to this report.

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Tahoe Daily Tribune Updated Apr 30, 2012 08:19PM Published Apr 30, 2012 07:39PM Copyright 2012 Tahoe Daily Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.