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Cascading series of threats led to Beaverton School District lockout
Update: 6:30 a.m. Thursday, Dec. 20
A cascade of four separate threats lead to lockouts of all Beaverton School District facilities on Wednesday, Dec. 19, according to Beaverton Police.
According to police:
• Late in the evening of Tuesday, Dec. 18, the school district received a threat via its Facebook account. District officials reported the threat to Washington County Sheriff's Office and Beaverton Police Department. The threat did not name a specific school or individual.
• At 7:16 a.m. Wednesday, someone called the front office of Westview High School with a threat that included the line, "You all will die."
The Sheriff's Office is investigating the call.
As a result, the school district opted to place all buildings in lockout as a precaution. "Lockout" means the entire exterior of the buildings are locked and no outside activities occur, but classes continue as scheduled inside the buildings. The maneuver is different from a "lockdown," in which individual classrooms are locked.
• Shortly before 9 a.m. Wednesday, another threat was posted on the School District's Facebook page. This threat had a link to a picture of a firearm, police say.
"Analysis of the photo showed it was originally taken by a European media station in 2012. This threat was similar in nature and content to other threats received that originated outside our region," according to a Beaverton Police press release.
• At 11:27 a.m. Wednesday, an email was sent to 43 administrators within the school district, threatening violence at an unnamed middle school in Beaverton.
Beaverton Police are investigating the origins of the email.
"It was determined that the email was sent through a service designed to hide the identity of the sender," according to the police. "Further examination showed the email was sent through a server system which has been used in the past to spread threats of violence in other school districts."
The police and Sheriff's Office communicated with the FBI and other law enforcement agencies to find the origins of these threats, police said.
"It is unknown why the Beaverton School District is being targeted with these threats," according to the press release.
The investigation is ongoing.
Late Tuesday, school district officials sent out the following message to the community and media:
"Dear Beaverton School District Parents & Guardians,
"The last twenty-four hours have been stressful for parents, students, staff and our community. We appreciate your understanding and support as we work to ensure the safety of students and staff. Safety is our number one priority.
"We continue to work with the Washington County Sheriff's Office, Beaverton Police Department and the FBI, to track down the origin of these threats and to actively investigate leads. Please see the press release from the Beaverton Police Department for additional details.
"After consulting with our law enforcement partners, we will have a regular school day on Thursday, while taking extra precautions:
"We are conducting security sweeps of all school buildings
"Law enforcement partners will have an enhanced presence across the District.
"Staff will maintain a high level of awareness.
"We remain in constant contact with law enforcement. If we receive any new information, we will update our plans."
Updated at 11:07 a.m. Wednesday, Dec. 19:
All Beaverton School District schools are in "a precautionary lockdown" after a threatening phone call was received shortly after 7 a.m. Wednesday, Dec. 19.
Maureen Wheeler, spokesperson for the district, said the threatening call was received at Westview High School and mentioned Westview specifically. "The message was: You're all going to die today," she said.
That potential threat was added atop a generic threat posted on Facebook Tuesday evening, which mentioned a gun but not a specific school, Wheeler said.
Beaverton Police and the Washington County Sheriff's Office are investigating the Wednesday phone threat, as well as the Tuesday Facebook threat. Wheeler said information technology experts are attempting to track the Facebook threat.
"We're acting in an abundance of caution. We've got everyone paying attention," Wheeler said.
All after school and evening events at the school district have been cancelled for Wednesday.
Update at 10:07 a.m. Wednesday, Dec. 19:
The Beaverton School District has directed all schools to go into a lockout. The lockout will be in effect all day.
The move is a precautionary measure for all schools today, following a Facebook threat received Tuesday night. The Beaverton Police and Washington County Sheriff's Office are investigating and the FBI has been informed.
A "lockout" means business as usual inside the school. All perimeter doors are locked. For students in portables, all transitions will be supervised by adults.
Parents and guardians who wish to pick up children are directed to go to the school office.
Parents and staff of the Beaverton School District were warned late Tuesday night about a "veiled threat of violence involving a gun," in a post on Facebook.
Maureen Wheeler, spokesperson for the district, said no specific schools or facilities were named. Schools were set to open on Wednesday per usual.
The Washington County Sheriff's Office and the Beaverton Police were informed. The district is large enough to serve portions of Washington County outside Beaverton Police jurisdiction.
On Wednesday, Beaverton Police said the threat is similar in nature and content to several other online threats that have been received in the region. "Those other threats have been investigated and determined not to be credible," according to a Beaverton Police Department press release. "The other threats were sent from location/s outside our area in an apparent attempt to disrupt our community and cause fear. In this threat there was no specific targeted school or building."
Police are investigating the threat and have communicated with the FBI.
The following message went sent by the district Tuesday to families:
Dear BSD Families,
Tonight, the District received a Facebook post — a veiled threat of violence involving a gun. No specific Beaverton school or facility was named.
We have notified both the Washington County Sheriff's Office and the Beaverton Police Department. They have advised that the threat is similar in context and content to postings occurring in Oregon and nationally.
All of our schools will operate on a normal Wednesday schedule.
We ask you to be vigilant. If you hear or see something, say something and report to your administration and the Beaverton School District Public Safety Office.
Maureen Wheeler, APR
Public Communications Officer
Beaverton School District
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