Several Mercer Island schools and the Boys & Girls Club were on lockdown for about seven minutes on the afternoon of Jan. 11 amid nearby police activity.
After Mercer Island Police Department (MIPD) officers determined that the 911 call they received from a resident was a false burglary claim with someone allegedly carrying a weapon, the lockdowns were lifted at about 2:49 p.m. At that point, MIPD determined that the public was not in danger, according to a police social media post.
MIPD was notified of the potential burglary in progress at 2:32 p.m. by the resident in the 8600 block of Southeast 40th Street.
“Officers were dispatched immediately. We got there pretty quickly and contained the scene pretty fast. The on-scene sergeant authorized the order to nearby schools to perform their lockdown procedures,” said Lindsey Tusing, MIPD records specialist, who added that three patrol units were on the scene at 86th Avenue Southeast and Southeast 40th Street.
Schools that went into lockdown out of an abundance of caution as the investigation was underway were Mercer Island High School, Northwood Elementary School and St. Monica Catholic School, along with the Boys & Girls Club.
No information was available at press time as to where the schools were situated in the dismissal process prior to the lockdown. Tusing said MIPD received a couple of calls from parents who learned about the situation from their kids’ texts or by other means.
“(There) were obviously concerns that we wanted to get those questions answered as quickly as possible as to whether there was an actual threat and what the next steps would be,” Tusing said. “We had an internal email from the school district that said that everything went very smoothly, that they train for those sort of things.”
MIPD had yet to receive a report from St. Monica School or the club regarding their lockdown scenario, Tusing said.
Earlier in the day, the MIPD received similar false burglary calls from the resident and learned that there was no person with a weapon nearby, Tusing said. The department is not treating the calls as malicious false reports.
“Sometimes there are instances where there’s nothing malicious going on, but it’s scary still, and it’s a big deal, it affects people still,” she said.
Representatives from the school district and Boys & Girls Club said they received word from NORCOM, the region’s central 911 agency, about the scenario and to place their buildings into lockdown mode. The district also immediately notified the Mary Wayte Pool staff about the situation, according to district Superintendent Fred Rundle, who addressed the community in a video message posted on social media on Jan. 12.
“We continue to practice and rehearse our lockdown drills throughout the year. We work with Mercer Island Police Department, so that we’re ready in the event that we have a lockdown like we did this week,” Rundle said.
Rundle added that some community members questioned the district’s transparency with staff and students when announcing the lockdown.
“When we received that information, we did not have any other information regarding why or what was happening,” said Rundle, adding that by addressing the situation on the video, he is showing transparency and relaying the same information to the entire tight-knit community.
The Boys & Girls Club, which was holding regular activities, activated lockdown protocol until police informed them that there was no threat of danger.
“The safety of our members is our top priority. Mercer Island Boys & Girls Clubs, along with all other clubs that are part of Boys & Girls Clubs of King County, practice lockdown drills quarterly with staff and club members,” a club statement reads.
The Reporter also reached out to St. Monica School and will add more information to this story when it becomes available.