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By DEREK WILEY
Of the Keizertimes
Miscommunication in the front office at McNary High School resulted in a Condition 2 lockdown on the morning of Thursday, Nov. 16.
The incident started when a person went into the office and said they were just in the parking lot and heard gunshots.
“The way it was translated was there are gunshots in the parking lot,” said McNary principal Erik Jespersen, who was in an administration meeting at the time. “There was something lost in translation.”
Given the miscommunication, the threatening graffiti in several Keizer neighborhoods the day before, and “chatter” on the radio between campus monitors, Jespersen said McNary went under a brief lockdown “in an abundance of caution.”
The lockdown lasted 15 minutes, but Jespersen and school resource officer David Zavala knew there was no threat much sooner.
“Within just a few minutes we realized there’s not an imminent threat,” Jespersen said. “Our protocol is we have to call the district office and we talk to either Ray Byrd or John VanDreal, of Safety and Risk Management Services, they have to release us from lockdown because we may not be aware that something is going on down the street. They have to check to make sure it is indeed safe and then we let them out, so instead of a lockdown for 3-4 minutes, it turned into 15 minutes.”
Within 30 minutes, Jespersen sent an auto-dialer to all McNary families informing them of the lockdown. He then sent an email to the McNary staff, telling them to communicate with their students why the school went into lockdown.
“We want to communicate with our families as fast as possible,” Jespersen said. “Once things were done, I needed to get a very quick debrief with everyone involved. I got my facts straight. I had someone from the communications office write this for me, and then we went from there. We tried to get it out as fast as we possibly could in a responsible and clear way.”
Exactly where the gunfire sound came from is unknown.
Area residents went to the Keizer City Council in the past to demand action regarding a private shooting range across the Willamette River from Sunset Park.
McNary golf course has an air cannon they use to scare off geese. However, Alex Kantner, assistant golf shop pro, confirmed the cannon wasn’t shot on Thursday morning.
A cannon fire sound can also be heard across the river from Keizer Rapids Park.
The Salem-Keizer School District has three levels of lockdowns—Condition 1, 2 and 3.
Condition 1 occurs when there is danger away from campus. Teaching continues but everyone is out of the hallways, doors are locked and kids can’t leave the room.
In Condition 2, the threat is not currently in the building but is on its way. Instruction then stops, doors, windows and blinds are closed and locked, the lights are turned off and everyone moves to a pre-designated safe area away from windows.
Condition 3 is when a threat is in the building. Doors are barricaded.
“We have formal drills a few times a year. Our students and staff are very aware of what a Condition 1, 2, and 3 are,” Jespersen said. “The kids and the staff were amazing. They responded in probably 15-20 seconds. We had 2,000 students that were where they needed to be.”
Graffiti threats hit Keizer homes
Graffiti threatening violence at McKay High School and “everywhere” was discovered at multiple homes in Keizer Wednesday, Nov. 15.
While nothing came of the threats, Salem-Keizer School District had extra security in place at McKay and McNary high schools in response to the vandalism. The Keizer Police Department continues to investigate the incident and is looking for leads. Anyone with information can contact 503-390-3713 or email [email protected], reference Keizer Police Department Incident #17-4776
The first graffiti, with the message “school shooting today @McKay,” was discovered by Keizer patrol officers about 3:40 a.m. on Horizon Ridge Drive Northeast. While the patrol officers were in the neighborhood investigating the initial report of graffiti, officers discovered at least three additional residences had been vandalized with similar threatening graffiti. Two of the residences were also in the 1400 block of Horizon Ridge Drive NE, while the other residence is located in the 6800 block of Jakewood Court NE. Garage doors were targeted at the homes on Horizon Ridge, while a fence was targeted at the home on Jakewood Court.
Additional messages included: “29+ dead today bombs everywhere;” “school shooting today;” and “Sandyhook2” among others.
In addition to those instances of vandalism, a stop sign at the intersection of Jakewood Court Northeast and Horizon Ridge Drive Northeast had the word “go” painted on it, and a City of Keizer Parks Regulation sign at Country Glen Park had “Sh school shoot” painted on it.
Salem-Keizer School District Superintendent Christy Perry released the following statement: “Overnight, some houses in our community were tagged with graffiti communicating a threat of violence that has impacted multiple schools. Your child’s safety is our highest priority and we are working on closely with all of our law enforcement partners which includes additional security across the district. We will continue to update you as we gather more information. Classes are continuing as usual. If you have any information regarding the graffiti, please contact your local law enforcement. Thank you for trusting us with your children. We take this responsibility seriously.”