A bomb scare forced the evacuation of hundreds of students at North High School in Bakersfield Friday afternoon but authorities say the suspicious device turned out to be a harmless plumber's tool.
Kern County Sheriff's officials say students found the device in a boy's bathroom on campus. Patrol cars, the bomb squad, and dozens of parents rushed to the school, reacting to a situation that could have been very dangerous.
"We had no idea. We thought it was a fight at first," said senior Austin Hobbs.
The incident happened around lunchtime. Authorities say students found what looked like a pipe bomb in a boy's bathroom down a hallway. Staff immediately evacuated all 1,700 students to the football field.
"It's craziness. Your kids can't be safe anywhere anymore," said parent Christina Stevens.
"The scariest part was that I couldn't contact him," said parent Daniel Hobbs of his son. That's because students were asked to turn off their cell phones for fear they may detonate the suspected bomb.
An hour later, school was dismissed and students were released to their parents one-by-one, sometimes with tearful embraces.
"They're my kids, you know. A lot of the students I know them, and not knowing if this is something serious and why would somebody do this," said parent Aracely Guerrero.
As students evacuated, the Sheriff's Department sent a robot into the school to see if the device was explosive. It turned out it was nothing.
"It appears it was a plumbing tool or plumping pipe that was either left in the restroom or taken in the restroom and left there by someone," said Ray Pruitt, Sheriff's Department.
Even though students missed half a school day, authorities say staff did the right thing to air on the side of caution.
Authorities made no arrests and are not searching for any suspects because the device was not explosive.