by Peter Bloch
Thursday morning, between the hours of 10:40 and 11, the entire student body waited in silence and darkness across the school for the police to report that they had caught the man waving a loaded gun in the Frank Estates.
Contrary to the popular belief at the time, this was not a drill. According to Director of Facilities, Jon von Behren, the police called the school around 10:35 warning of an armed person located South of the school, and once more a few minutes later mentioning his presence in the Frank Estates.
The immediate response was to to the all-school paging system, and for the most part, it was effective. The middle schools was alerted immediately and began the lockout. However, the Lower and High School’s paging systems did not sound off, due to technical difficulties.
Instead, the message was spread by word of mouth. In the OES Upper School, John Holloran, Deb Walsh, and Corbet Clark moved as quickly as they could, sweeping the Upper School to tell students and faculty. Unfortunately, while the majority of students received the message about the lockout, there were a handful of students who were clueless as to what was going on. As icing on the cake, this lockout occurred during passing time (the beginning of the activity period), so the location of any given student was just about impossible to determine. Antonio H. ‘19 voiced that many students in the DC lounge weren’t alerted to the danger, and were unprepared should anything have gone wrong. Many other students echoed his sentiment during the impromptu school gathering held afterwards.
Personally, I spent the twenty minutes in The Aardvark Dig’s newsroom contemplating the meaning of life. The bulk of our writers and I sat in silence while we waited for a faculty member to arrive. That help came in the form of Lindsey Zanchettin, who was able to lock our door, and joined us from about 10:50 until the end.
According to both John Holloran and Jon von Behren, part of the reason that not every student was alerted is because most of their attention was diverted to the second aspect of the lockout, securing the perimeter. The main difference between a lockout and a lockdown is that a lockout is the proactive measure of securing the perimeter. A lockdown on the other hand, is the process of securely hiding because a threat is already on campus. The priority of facilities personnel on Thursday morning was to lock all exterior doors and patrol the school while awaiting news from the police.
At some schools that have a fenced perimeter, like our neighbor Jesuit, lockouts can occur concurrently with classes. OES on the other hand does not have a closed perimeter, and our core classes are shared between the Drinkward Center and Main building. As Jon pointed out to me, for the purposes of today’s lockout, the DC lounge, while not an ideal hiding spot, isn’t a terrible place to be because it’s away from first-floor easily accessible windows, and we knew that the armed person was located off campus.
If Jon von Behren had to give the school a grade, he said he would give an “A” for effort, but a “C-” for execution. “The lockout was great because try as you might, you cannot replicate this in a drill. In a drill, there’s no emotional component. This kind of situation really tests your procedures, so you learn where the holes are in how you respond,” Jon commented.
According to Oregonlive, the man, likely suffering a mental health issue, was apprehended shortly before 11 on suspicion of disorderly conduct. School’s back to normal ‘varks.