By Jhanelle Rivera, Editor In Chief
In a two-week period over the winter session, Valley College was the site of a deadly drug deal and a campus-wide evacuation.
On Jan. 26, 31-year-old Richard Zetino was shot in Parking Lot A and taken to a nearby hospital where he was pronounced dead. Authorities found Zetino next to a red pick-up in the parking lot; there were no campus activities at the time.
Raheen Taylor, 31, and Derrick Wilson, 25, were arrested the next day in San Jacinto by L.A. County Sheriff’s homicide detectives, where authorities found two revolvers and illegal drugs. According to authorities, the shooting was the result of a drug deal “rip off” and the choice of a Valley College parking lot was random.
Thirteen days after the drug-deal shooting, authorities received an anonymous call to warn of a shooter headed to Valley College to open fire on campus. The call came in Feb. 8, at 9:16 a.m.
Within an hour of the call, more than 200 law enforcement personnel from multiple agencies evacuated 700 students, staff and faculty members. The campus was closed till 5 p.m. and Grant High School was also placed on lock down.
“It is currently under investigation, so a lot of it is confidential information,” Said Deputy James McKain. “We already contacted all persons involved; there are several persons of interest. They have all been contacted and detectives are working the case right now.”
McKain said the caller, unidentified at press time, gave certain pieces of information which led authorities to Sydnee Lewis, a 21-year-old former Valley student. Lewis was detained at her home in Panorama City at approximately 10:30 a.m. that morning. Authorities searched her home and no weapons were found. She was released without being charged. Lewis did not respond to several attempts by the Star to make contact.
On Feb. 12, Interim President Alma Johnson-Hawkins addressed in a news release what was reported during the evacuation as “inaccurate reports.”
“There was never an active shooter on campus, and no one on campus was in serious danger when we decided to evacuate,” said Interim President Alma Johnson-Hawkins in a news release.
Student Yalitza Guerrero found out from her professor that the campus was evacuated and her final exam for the winter session was cancelled. The 28-year-old Guerrero was never warned by deputies to stay away from the campus and did not receive an AlertU message on her phone.
“I feel like the sheriffs could of done a better job with communicating with arriving students of the situation,” Guerrero said. “There wasn’t a sheriff in the entrance of Fulton and Burbank for some time; students kept going into the campus without a clue of what’s going on.”
Valley College Deputy McKain said no one else has been arrested but they continue to follow the case. Authorities are seeking the anonymous caller.
Anyone with information about this incident is requested by the Valley College Sheriff’s Station to contact them at (818) 947-2911.