Backup is here

Andy Houghtby

Photo By Monica Unhold

When shots rang out at Las Plumas High School in Oroville Sept. 28, Andy Houghtby of Chico State’s University Police was called to the scene for backup. After 90 minutes the teenage gunman released the students he was holding hostage in the band room. Fortunately, the standoff ended without any injuries or deaths. Oroville Police believe the alleged gunman was upset over a breakup with his girlfriend and brought a gun to school to shoot his ex’s new boyfriend. Houghtby, along with another University Police officer, responded to a call for aid in the situation. In addition to being an officer, Houghtby is also a family man. While speaking about his family he grins as he flashes a family photo of his wife and five smiling children.

You and another Chico State officer were called out to Las Plumas High School. What role did you play in diffusing the situation?

Early in the morning we got a call for mutual aid, so we responded. We were there for support in case it went mobile. We got there about an hour and a half later [after the Oroville police arrived]. The lucky thing about this one is that it was already contained; Oroville police had already set up an inner perimeter. There were five, six, or seven other agencies out there with us—and a lot of upset parents.

Was this the first school shooting call you’ve responded to?

I worked for the SWAT team for a while and I worked for 10 years up in Tehama County. We responded to a call there once about a gun outside of a school.

Are school shooting situations more emotional for you because you have children?

Everybody should be emotional in that situation with kids. It’s a major case and it should be taken very seriously. Our children are our future.

What’s the strangest call you’ve ever responded to?

It’s all normal to me. It’s not weird; it’s what we deal with. Up in Tehama there was a neighbor dispute over a neighbor’s cat pooping in the other neighbor’s yard. That was weird … At Chico State we got a call about a man shaking a tree on campus once [laughing]. He actually went to jail for being under the influence. He was too high to do anything but spin around.