Police arrest suspect in connection to Monday’s lockdown


Police conduct search outside Tam. (Photo courtesy of Matthew Pera)

By Paige Anderson

Updated January 30, 2020.

Marin authorities arrested a 21-year-old man last night in connection to the lockdown and shelter in place on Monday, January 27. According to a press release from the Marin County Sheriff’s Office, the suspect, Tam alumni Michael Kessler, used an Airsoft replica gun and a mask to record a Snapchat video near campus when he was noticed by witnesses. Kessler was charged with two felonies: possession of a weapon on school grounds and criminal threat to terrorize as well as three misdemeanors including destroying and concealing evidence, brandishing a replica firearm, and changing the markings on an imitation firearm.

“We have no reason to believe Kessler, who was a former student at Tam High School, intended on performing an act of violence on Tam High School. Kessler was aware of the fear his actions caused the public, Tam High School students and was remorseful,” the Sheriff’s Office wrote in a press release this morning. 

The Sheriff’s Office placed Tam and Mill Valley Middle School on lockdown at about 2 p.m. on Monday due to reports of an armed masked man on Homestead Boulevard and Almonte Street. Additionally, residents within a quarter-mile radius of Tam were instructed to shelter in place and avoid the area. Police were unable to locate the suspect that day, and, after searching the campus, lifted both the lockdown and shelter in place at about 4 p.m. 

“This is such a reality check. This is one of those things that you hear about happening but it never happens to you … and now it is,” junior Olivia Van Dien said.

More than five different law enforcement agencies, including a SWAT team, assisted in the search. A video, shared by the Twitter account “22x” (@22xco) and spread quickly by students, showed forces coming onto campus near the back parking lot and drama building, heavily armed and wearing bulletproof vests. Drones and helicopters flew over the campus as well. 

“Within 10 minutes of the person being identified, we had an officer here working directly with us until the end of the incident. We are in constant communication. There was never a point where there wasn’t communication and conversation. They were always informing us,”  principal J.C. Farr said.