UPDATED: South Prairie Elementary went on lockout this morning after gunshots were heard in the distance. The sound was later determined to be from firearms training.
The lockout began at around 10:10 a.m. on Wednesday, Nov. 20. Police were contacted, students were secured in their classrooms, and all exterior doors were locked, according to a social media post from Tillamook School District.
“It was business as usual inside the building as students were not in danger,” the school district social media post said. “Tillamook County Sheriff’s Office determined that the noise had come from the Port of Tillamook Bay target range where a practice was in session.
School officials referred to the statement issued on social media when asked for additional comment on the matter. The lockout was reportedly concluded at 10:35 a.m.
Tillamook County Sheriff’s Office confirmed the gunshots came from routine Coast Guard firearms training at the Join Public Safety Firing Range located around two miles away at the Port of Tillamook Bay. Training sessions such as this have been conducted for several years by various local agencies at the site, which has been leased for the firing range since 2009.
The sheriff’s office said at no time was there any risk to the public.
South Prairie Elementary School Principal Karen Thenell sent an email to parents later in the day in hopes of shedding some light on her decision to secure the building and bring students inside. She said at around 10 a.m., three staff members reported to the office that they had heard multiple gunshots in the vicinity of the building.
Thenell said the nearby Tillamook Gun Club has been an excellent neighbor to the school, including holding off on practice during the school day in favor of after-hours and weekends, adding that the gunshots came from the Coast Guard drill at the firing range on port property.
“As always, our number one priority is to keep your students safe,” Thenell said in the email. “Today, the decision was easy for me to make: keep our students and staff safe by getting inside until we have information about what is happening.”