Student fights at Mira Loma High draw law enforcement response


Two fights between students broke out on the Mira Loma High School campus on Sept. 26, causing a schoolwide precautionary lockdown. In an email sent to the parents and guardians of students at Mira Loma High School later that day, principal Cletus Purinton explained the situation.

“I wanted to inform you that today we had two physical altercations involving students on our campus which required law enforcement response.”

Christopher Cotrutsa, a senior at Mira Loma High School, explained how the conflict had started.

“The situation was that a couple fights took place because different groups got mad at what happened the previous week and they just kept fighting each other in retaliation.”

There were some reports the incident involved Middle Eastern students and Black students, who clashed due to perceived cultural insults and elevated emotions. Ultimately, school officials decided the situation was too dangerous for school faculty intervention.

Aatefa Rahimi, a senior at Mira Loma High School, noted the fight had started during lunch and escalated by the sixth period near the end of school between the A and B buildings.

At 2:40 p.m., a message posted on the Mira Loma website announced that the campus was in lockdown.

“Mira Loma High School is currently in lockdown due to an altercation between students,” the message said. “Please do not go to the school at this time. We will provide an update as soon as possible.”

Rojina Boldaji, a senior at Mira Loma, said that during the school fight, her teacher had to lock the door, close the curtains, and turn off the lights. Though the situation was unusual, most students were not aware of any obvious danger. 

“We were taking an English test,” she said. “We closed the door and stayed in class. I didn’t really feel anything, it was sort of normal but also worrying.”

Cotrutsa said that his class reacted to the situation in a similar way.

“We just did our own stuff in class during the lockdown,” he said. “It wasn’t that serious.”

However, police were called in to safely end the fight and take control of the situation. Cotrutsa, who was able to observe the incident through the classroom window, said the officers separated those involved in the fight, though aggressive measures such as handcuffs had to be used.

“Law enforcement was involved because it got pretty serious after the first fight,” he said. “They were pinning people down.”

Purinton sought to quell fears by alerting parents and guardians in the email of the presence of law enforcement vehicles after school as a safety measure. 

“You may have seen law enforcement vehicles on campus today at dismissal…out of an abundance of caution,” he said. “Please know that we are continuing to investigate these incidents and appropriate disciplinary actions will be taken.”

Boldaji said that in addition to the precautionary lockdown and shelter-in-place, all after-school activities that day were put on hold and students were told to find a ride home. According to Boldaji, this was done to quickly disperse the student body and prevent unwanted interference with the arrests or another recurrence of what had just transpired.

All students were told to wait at the front of the school if they needed to organize a ride home. Rahimi observed that the situation caused some tension after school when students were trying to rapidly leave the premises.

“The mood was stressful,” she said. “I think it was just a bit chaotic as everyone was at the front office. I didn’t have trouble finding my ride but I saw some people (struggling) to find their ride.”

Purinton ultimately took disciplinary action against some of the students involved in the fight, including one who was suspended.

Oftentimes fights on campus do not escalate to the level that law enforcement is involved to neutralize the situation. However, while there were many police officers and cars on campus after school, students in attendance that day said the lockdown and shelter-in-place did not greatly impact their ability to learn in the classroom and that the actions taken by Purinton were timely and well executed.

“But Mr. Purinton did everything,” Contrutsa said.