MANILA, Calif. - What began as a fun-filled field trip to the Manila Dunes ended with a group of kindergarten children taking cover from a shooter, according to the Humboldt County Sheriff's Office. This happened on Nov. 9 at around 5 p.m. at the Humboldt Coastal Nature Center when children from Coastal Grove Charter School came for their annual lantern walk.
Rose Arnold was there with her six and four-year-old sons when she heard shots in the distance.
"About a minute or so later we heard another set of 'pop, pop, pop that was getting closer," Arnold said. "By the third set of pop, pop, pops, we started to gather all the kids and try to get them underneath the tree.
Arnold said that a parent immediately called 911. The Sheriff's Office said they received four 911 calls regarding “shots heard” in the area of Friends of the Dunes on Stamps Lane in Manila, according to officials.
"It was about 10-15 minutes later when two Sheriff's showed up," Arnold said. "They did not come in with lights and sirens on."
Kim McFarland with Friends of the Dunes at the nature center said she was assisting with the event when the shots began.
"The kids took cover in the low area underneath the cypress tree," McFarland said. "Someone said they saw the flash of a gun across the highway."
The school's director, Bettina Eipper, said they decided to cancel the event before the other students arrived. No one was injured, but she said the event was upsetting for students and parents.
"Be aware of where you're shooting and always shoot in a safe place where you're supposed to be shooting," Eipper said.
Deputies said they checked the area extensively for any suspicious subjects, and no one was located. They said they spoke with three to four people who live on Peninsula Drive, who indicated they heard the gunshots and agreed with the above individual’s assessment of shots heard. Deputies said they checked the area on foot for evidence, including spent rounds, but did not find any significant results.
"I know for me, I want my kids to be able to go back out there and feel safe. And my six-year-old, knowing that the person was not found, he's not going to feel safe out there," Arnold said.