Skip to content

A Parent’s Worst Nightmare

December 4, 2015

My phone showed 21 unread text messages? How could I have missed 21 text messages in the last 10 minutes? 

(1/6) This is Pleasant Grove High School. We are currently under lockdown under advisement of the Pleasant Grove Police Departent.

(2/6) We are currently under lockdown under advisement of the Pleasant Grove Police Department. We will update you as more information becomes available.

(3/6) Students cannot be released until the lockdown has been lifted by the police department.  We will keep all of the students inside the building. They are

(4/4) here safe and secure. Please do not come to get them. We have been advised to lockdown our facility along with the high school. We will remain on

(5/6) lockdown until the police allow us to release the students. We will send out another email when the students may be released. Thank you, Pleasant Grove.

(6/6) Text ‘STOP’ to opt out. Please do not reply to this text.

I got a separate text string for each of my four children who attend Pleasant Grove High School. 

It was just shortly before 3:00 pm yesterday. My sleepy little town of Pleasant Grove, UT was transformed into a war zone. 

It is estimated that 200 police officers converaged on our high school. They came from all over the county, including the higway patrol. They came in cruisers, but also trucks and armored vehicles. They came wearing tactical uniforms and helmets carry automatic weapons and grenades. Reports through news media and kids with cell phones were sporadic and confusing.

There’s been a shooting. . .

There’s been an arrest. . .

There’s a report of a man with a gun. . .

Multiple suspicious persons. . .

It’s a hoax. . .

A man with a trenchcoat carrying a pistol. . .

Your child is in danger and you are powerless to do anything. 


I started home from my job in Salt Lake City. My wife was getting updates from our kids and relaying them to me. The report was a man with a gun on campus. Police were searching the school room by room. One son was in a classroom with a great view of the student commons. 


The door to their classroom suddenly banged open.

POLICE! HANDS IN THE AIR! Everyone on the floor, NOW!

This is a picture that he snapped in his haste to get down on the floor.

The guns weren’t pointed AT the students, but they weren’t NOT pointed at the students either.

After verifying the security of the room, the officers had the students exit with hands in the air.

Another son was in the gym. They had no windows and weren’t sure at first if there was a real threat or if the school was running a drill. The instructor knew. My son told me about the mood in the classroom.

There was one kid, a sophomore, who had this fighting stance the entire two hours were were in lockdown. When the police came through the door, he almost attacked them, thinking they were the shooter. There was a senior standing next to him that stopped him. 

My other two kids were in a building away from the main school building. Their classroom was locked down and police patrolled the halls. The police didn’t think the shooter had left the main building so they were content to leave the kids in the classrooms and guard the doors. The teacher explained that if anyone had to use the restroom, the police would first need to search them before they would be allowed out of the classroom. Two hours is a long time. Eventually, a student appoached the officer at the door.

Where are you going?

I need to use the restroom.

Go behind the piano and pee in a bucket.

Ha ha. . .wait, you’re serious?


Apparently the kid didn’t need to go that badly. Eventually every classroom had been checked. Dogs went through the hallways checking for explosives. And eventually, parents were allowed to get their children. 

When I arrived in our town on my way home from work, there were still police vehicles lining the street in front of the high school, although the road had been reopened. 

The scare was over, but many people’s nerves were still on edge. It turns out that a student was late for class and when confronted about it, decided to make up the story of a man in a trenchcoat with a pistol. The vice principle reported it to the school resource officer who alerted the local police department. The police insist that the recent tragedy in California had nothing to do with the scope of their response. I have my doubts. 

It was telling that the reaction of parents and the rest of the public was worry and concern, but none of us thought, “It can’t happen here.” It can happen here. It can happenanywhere. Sadly it’s the world we live in.

Thanks to Pleasant Grove Police Department for the updates they issued throughout the incident. Thanks to all the law enforcment officers who rushed toward the danger to protect our kids. A grateful community appreciates you. 

(All photos credit: Isaac Bliss)

Rodney M Bliss is an author, columnist and IT Consultant. His blog updates every weekday at 7:00 AM Mountain Time. He lives in Pleasant Grove, UT with his lovely wife, thirteen children and grandchildren. 

Follow him on
Twitter (@rodneymbliss
Facebook (
LinkedIn (
or email him at rbliss at msn dot com

(c) 2015 Rodney M Bliss, all rights reserved 

  1. Fred permalink

    Hold me or mine against our will and tell us to pee in a bucket, and someone’s going to jail or in a hole for unlawful imprisonment.

    • I hear you, Fred. It wasn’t my kid that needed to pee.

      But, I’m pretty sure that during an active shooter situation (which they thought it was) the police have some latitude to do both.

  2. Peter Morris permalink

    it’s the world YOU live in. And other Americans. The rest of the civilised world does not live in that place.

    • Well, the French live there, and the British are familiar with it. And the parents in Norway who endured that terrible slaughter a few years ago. And just about anywhere in the Middle East.

      And once you get out of the developed countries, the danger from gun violence goes up dramatically.

      Very few places in the world are immune.

Leave a Reply