Shelter in Place Near Tam High/Tam High Lockdown UPDATE

January 29, 2020

From the Marin County Sheriff's Office:

Arrest made in connection with Tam High School incident

Arrested: Michael Kessler, a 21 year old male, Fairfield, CA

On Monday, January 27th, 2020 around 1:50pm Deputies from the Marin County Sheriff’s Office in collaboration with Officer’s from the Mill Valley Police Department and multiple other Marin County Law Enforcement agencies responded to reports of an subject seen with an AK47 style rifle near Tam High School.

At the conclusion of the incident and after additional witness interviews, it was determined this incident occurred in Sheriff’s Office jurisdiction. The person reportedly armed with a gun and wearing a mask was seen on the border of school grounds. During the initial response, a Deputy was circling the area looking for a white vehicle, possibly a truck or a sedan, that was reported to be associated with the man with a gun. The Deputy located a vehicle in the Good Earth Parking lot in Tam Junction and ran the license plate that came back to a rental vehicle. The Deputy looked inside the vehicle and did not see anything suspicious, but noted the location of the vehicle and the license plate.

The following day, we were contacted by a witness who was aware of Tam High School incident.  This witness reported running into a man in the good earth parking lot who pulled a mask down over his face after asking why there was such a large police presence in the area. Ultimately, it was the Deputy locating the vehicle and running the license plate, additional investigation by Detectives with the rental car company and the witness coming forward that led us to identifying Michael Kessler, a 21 year old male from Fairfield, CA as the person responsible for the large police response.

Detectives worked tirelessly to identify and locate Kessler. Late last night, after countless interviews with Witnesses and Kessler, Detectives were able to locate the AK47, which was determined to be a replica AK47 airsoft gun with electrical tape placed over the orange tip. The AK47 replica airsoft was discarded in bushes near a relatives residence in Mill Valley. Kessler admitted to using the airsoft gun and mask to shoot a Snapchat video near Tam High School.

Kessler admitted to following our social media pages during the large police response. Kessler was arrested on the following charges:

  • 626.10 (A) PC – Possession of weapon near school grounds
  •  135 PC – Destroy/Conceal evidence
  •  417.4 PC – Brandish replica firearm
  • 12556(A) PC – Unlawful display of imitation firearm
  •  20510 (A) PC – Change markings on 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.

We would like to thank the community for coming together and working with Law Enforcement to help us identify the person responsible. We are greatly appreciative of the citizens saying something when they saw something.

If there are any additional witnesses to this incident, we are asking that they contact the Marin County Sheriff’s Office Investigations unit at (415) 473-7265

This is a great example of a people coming forward when they see something suspicious. We encourage the public, if you see something suspicious, say something. 



January 28, 2020

On Monday, January 27, 2020, at approximately 1:50 PM the Mill Valley Police Department and Marin County Sheriff’s Office were dispatched to respond to a report of a subject possibly carrying a rifle on Almonte Boulevard to the rear of Tamalpais High School.  The subject was described as wearing a black mask and black clothes and possibly associated with a white car.  Another witness reported a suspicious subject with a similar clothing description wearing a mask near parked vehicles in the area but did not see any weapon.  While en route to the area, Tamalpais High School administration was notified of the reports and placed in lock down protocol.

Mill Valley Police Department and Marin County Sheriff’s Office personnel arrived on scene within minutes and immediately checked the area for the suspicious subject, associated vehicle and any witnesses to gain further information. As a further precaution, a shelter in place advisory was issued in the proximity of the high school, which included Mill Valley Middle School. The Mill Valley Police Department was in constant contact with officials from both schools and consulted on the lock down and shelter in place advisories.
The Mill Valley Police Department and Marin County Sheriff’s Office received timely and significant support and resources from law enforcement agencies throughout the county.  Law enforcement personnel coordinated to secure and search the high school and the surrounding area.  All students and staff were safe during the time the incident was being investigated. Witnesses were identified and assisted in confirming the suspect and associated vehicle had left the area.
Around 2:30 pm, the Mill Valley Police Department consulted with school officials regarding the release of Mill Valley Middle School students at their regularly scheduled time and assessed that it was safe to release the students.
Around 4:00 pm, after an extensive search of the school and surrounding area, law enforcement officers lifted the lockdown and shelter in place advisory.
At this time, no criminal activity has been verified and the suspicious subject has not been identified or located. Rumored reports of an associated armed bank robbery were unfounded and unverified. The investigation is ongoing and will be handled by the Marin County Sheriff’s office as the suspicious activity occurred in the jurisdiction of the County of Marin. The Mill Valley Police Department will continue to assist and liaison with school officials.
“We appreciate the assistance of all the responding agencies that supported us today,” Mill Valley Police Chief Alan Piombo said. “We also appreciate the close coordination with School District officials, administration and teachers. We would also like to thank all parents and students for their patience and cooperation through this situation.”
Contact Info:                                            
Mill Valley Police Department
1 Hamilton Dr
Mill Valley, CA 94941

Emergency: 9-1-1
Non-emergencies: 415-389-4100