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Sehome High School put on lockdown for 3rd time in the past 4 school days

Aerial view of Sehome High School. Source: Bellingham Public Schools

BELLINGHAM, Wash. — Officials at Sehome High School put the campus on lockdown for about an hour today, Wednesday, December 8th. This was the 3rd such security incident since the first occurred Friday, resulting in charges against a student being forwarded to the Whatcom County Prosecutor’s Office.

Friday’s Lockout

On Friday, school officials implemented a “modified lockout,” and Bellingham Police Department (BPD) officers confiscated an airsoft pistol from a student’s backpack after the school received a report of someone being in possession of a gun. “The administration had been made aware of this and placed the school in a partial lockout and requested law enforcement assistance in investigating this incident,” BPD Lieutenant Claudia Murphy said in an emailed statement.

Several officers and a BPD detective responded to the school according to Murphy and based on their investigation were able to determine a 16-year-old student was in possession of an airsoft pistol (Glock 17 style). It was safely retrieved and booked into evidence.

Probable cause was developed for possession of a dangerous weapon on school facilities (RCW 9.41.280 1e) for being in possession of an air pistol with a CO2 cartridge, which is prohibited on school grounds.

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Murphy said the student was released to a parent and the charge have been referred to the Whatcom County Prosecutor’s Office.

Monday’s Lockdown

Monday’s lockdown, according to Principal Sonia Cole, was initiated after students reported receiving what was seen as threatening messages. Bellingham Police Department (BPD) was called and deemed the threats not credible but investigated, including searching the perimeter and building interior. Cole said BPD are continuing to investigate the source of these messages along with the school’s educational technology district staff.

The messages were being received via a service called AirDrop that is available on Apple smartphones and devices. According to Apple’s website, AirDrop is intended to simplify sharing files, including photos, and it is possible for anyone who has set their AirDrop receiving setting to “Everyone” to unintentionally receive files sent via AirDrop by anyone nearby. Apple recommends receiving settings be set to “Contacts Only” or “Receiving Off” to control who can see your device and send you content.

Today’s Lockdown

Murphy said via email BPD were contacted by Sehome High School officials again today, about 12:45pm. The school reported receiving a threat which prompted them to put the campus on lockdown as a safety precaution. BPD investigated the threat and “determined there was a lack of credibility to the threat made.”

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Murphy said BPD investigators are working to determine in these 2 recent incidents are related.

Based on our presence at the school and determination of the lack of credibility of the threat, the lockdown ended.  We are grateful to the Bellingham School District for all their hard work to keep students safe by quickly and swiftly entering their safety protocols and working with our patrol officers and investigators to resolve this matter.Bellingham Police Department (December 8, 2021)

School officials announced the lockdown was over at about 2pm.

Sehome High School went into lockdown protocol as a safety precaution at approx. 1 p.m. today. The situation is now resolved and the lockdown is over. School has resumed to normal operations. Sehome students and staff were safe inside the school with the doors locked.Sehome High School website (December 8, 2021)

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