Centralia Students Being Released as Lockdown Winds Down; Homecoming Game Postponed


5:00 p.m. Update: Read our full story (click here).

4:15 p.m. Update: 

3:15 P.M. Update: From the District: High school bus routes may be late today. If your student normally rides the bus we will get them home on a bus.

2:05 p.m. Update: Here is audio of Centralia High School Principal Josh Lowe speaking with parents waiting for students at Centralia Community Church of God this afternoon. The process of clearing students and taking them to the church is ongoing.

3:45 p.m. Update: A press conference will be held regarding the threat and lockdown at 4 p.m. This will be the final update on this breaking news item.

See the full story so far here: http://www.chronline.com/crime/threat-spurs-lockdown-evacuation-at-centralia-high-school/article_d147a568-6956-11e5-97af-d37b5394dd06.html

The Chronicle will publish a final version this evening. 

1:35 p.m. Update: Tonight's homecoming game has been postponed, according to the school district. More information will be released soon. 

1:28 p.m. Update: Centralia High School principal Josh Lowe has told parents it will be about 90 minutes to two hours before parents and students are all reunited, though the process is underway and some students have already been brought to the church. 

District communications worker Ed Petersen said it could take longer. He also said no weapons have been found during searches of the school. 

1:09 p.m. Update: From the Lewis County Sheriff's Office:

"Rumors have circulated that a picture of a shooter was captured on safety monitors at Centralia High School. We have confirmed, with a student, that he took the photo off a monitor, in a classroom, and that it was a law enforcement officer responding to the possible threat. The officer had a rifle with him, as is standard protocol in a response such as this.

Please be patient. We are releasing over 1,000 students and want to ensure the safety of all students during this process."

12:45 p.m. Update: The first Centralia High School students have been released, loaded on to a bus and driven to the parking lot across the street where parents and guardians await. The process of removing all students from the building is expected to take some time. 

Meanwhile, the Adna School District placed their buildings on "minimum access," but have not initiated a lockdown. 

According to administrative assistant LeeAnn Parker, students in Adna received notifications of Centralia School District's lockdown and felt uneasy. In an effort to make them feel better, all schools were placed on minimum access.  

"They are upset, they had bad news yesterday (the Oregon shooting), the media played it up quite well, and it puts them on edge a little bit. We're trying to make them feel safe," Parker said. 

According to Parker, power was temporarily out in the area, adding to confusion among parents and teachers. 

"It's the perfect storm for nothing," she said.  

12:15 p.m. Update: In response to persistent rumors spreading on social media — along with a photograph showing surveillance footage — Centralia School District communications worker Ed Petersen provided this statement: "There is no shooter. There has been no shooting."

The individuals in the photograph of surveillance footage are law enforcement officers, he said.

The threatening note that prompted the lockdown was found on a desk, he said. 

12:05 p.m. Update: According to the Lewis County Sheriff's Office, classrooms will be released one by one "starting shortly."

From the statement: "Parents may pick students up at the Centralia Community Church of God. Students who drove are being allowed to leave campus (if they are 18 years old — otherwise parental permission is necessary).

Students who ride the bus home will still need parental permission, if under 18, to leave campus. School officials will call parents for permission."

11:47 a.m. Update: A Chronicle reporter at the scene says students will be escorted 20 at a time from the school to the Community Church of God. The school will be accounting for each student. The State Patrol is at the scene working to control traffic. Parents continue to arrive. 

11:45 a.m. Update: The Centralia Police Department has issued this release:

This morning at approximately 10 a.m. the Centralia School Resource Officer was notified of a note located in a classroom, which stated a student was planning on killing people during a school assembly, scheduled for the afternoon.

Local law enforcement was immediately notified, school was put into lock down, and a plan is being made for evacuation of students.

Students will be released as soon as appropriate.  Students will be released to go home on the bus or be picked up by parents. Parents may wait at Centralia Community Church of God, located at Borst and Eshom.  Students who drove will be allowed to leave when appropriate.

At this time it is unknown if any weapons are actually at the school.  Several law enforcement agencies are at the school and students will remain in lockdown until further notice.

At this time all students are safely locked down.

Previously: Centralia High School is currently on lockdown, according to the Centralia Police Department.

Ed Petersen, a communications employee for the school district, said a threat of "a specific kind of violence" was made at the school. No other details of the threat were released.

"Right now, everyone is safe. There has been no act of violence," he said.

All students are being searched before they are potentially released. Students will then possibly be sent across the street to the Community Church of God. Parents are asked not to go to the school, Petersen said.

Students are being held in classrooms by teachers and staff, according to social media communication between several students and The Chronicle. Parents at the scene say they are receiving messages from their children, who have been asked not to use their cellphones. Several parents have voiced frustration with the immediate lack of information. 

Centralia Middle School is not on lockdown. 

The district's Facebook page released this message: "Centralia high school is currently on lockdown due to a threat received. We are assessing the situation with law-enforcement. At this time students are still on campus and are safe. However we are evaluating the need to release students early. If that happens we will release students to the Centralia Community Church of God across the road from the high school. Please do not come to Centralia high school we will let you know if and when and where students are released. Follow this page for more information."

No other details were immediately available.

The Chronicle will post more information as it becomes available.

  • Here is audio of Centralia High School Principal Josh Lowe speaking with parents waiting for students at Centralia Community Church of God this afternoon. The process of clearing students and taking them to the church is onging.