A parolee unaffiliated with Pierce College attempted to take over a classroom by threat and intimidation in the Village buildings behind South Gym Monday, Sept. 9.
“A non-student walked into the classroom, went to the back and threatened to take over the class with a weapon,” said Lt. Rod Armalin of the Los Angeles County Sheriff Community College Bureau.
It began about 20 minutes before a Communication Studies 101 professor arrived to start class. Students were followed into the classroom by two unknown adult males, the professor said.
The two made rude, odd, and derogatory comments to students while standing in the back of the room, one of them singing to female students, the professor said.
The professor said that when she arrived in class, “everyone was weird and quiet,” and one large adult male dressed in orange was standing in an aisle and entering into unintelligible dialog with himself and sometimes singing.
“He said ‘Listen to me!’ but had no eye contact with anyone,” the professor said.
The man finally walked up to the professor and said, “Oh, teach,” and then again spoke unintelligibly, the professor said.
The professor said she asked the man if he was adding the class, but he replied that he was “waiting for Kenny Kanard.”
Next the man said, “I’m from Death Row Records,” while rolling up his sleeves and announcing his intention of taking over the class, the professor said.
At that point, the professor told the now-assailant, “I’m going to talk to a professor next door,” and left with a few students. They ran to the professor’s car parked between the South Gym and the Sheriff’s station, the professor said.
As they were talking to a deputy about the incident, the professor said a student yelled, “There he is! There he is!” and he was quickly taken into custody without resisting, despite his erratic behavior and considerable size of 6 feet 4 inches and 220 pounds.
Rolf Schleicher, vice president of Administrative Services, said the professor’s quick thinking is commendable.
“She handled it very effectively,” Schleicher said.
Armalin said the suspect, Branden Saighe, has been charged with making terrorist threats — a felony under California Penal Code 422 — as well as a misdemeanor charge of annoying adults attending class under California Penal Code 647b.
After the one suspect was apprehended, a K-9 unit from LA Valley College was dispatched to inspect the classroom, Schleicher said.
“They didn’t know how many people were involved,” Schleicher said. “They thought he had a friend in class.”
If the suspect had gotten away or if they had credible information that more than one suspect existed, the school would have issued a Blackboard Connect message to alert all students within minutes, Schleicher said.
“We can get 50 police officers here in a matter of moments,” he said.
Saighe’s home was searched by law enforcement the evening of Sept. 9, but Armalin had no comment on the findings as the investigation is ongoing.
This is the second violent assault on a class of students in the Village in six months. On March 4, 2013, Tyshaun Middleton attacked an instructor and was subsequently arrested, charged and sentenced to jail time.
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