UPDATED: Student arrested after assaults at North Salem high

This story was updated with additional information from Salem police.

North Salem High School was under a lockdown for about an hour Friday after a student attacked another student in class, school officials said.

Police arrested a 15-year-old boy who faces multiple assault charges after spraying responding police officers with a fire extinguisher, Salem police spokeswoman Angela Hendrick said.

The lockdown began at noon due to a student with “highly escalated behavior,” principal Dustin Purnell said in a message sent to North students and families.

Police were called to the school because a student was assaulting staff and damaging school property using a metal stanchion, Hendrick said. The boy was arrested after a struggle with officers and taken to Salem Health for evaluation before being lodged at the Marion County Juvenile Department.

He faces charges of strangulation, three counts of assault, two counts of assault of an officer, disorderly conduct and criminal mischief, Hendrick said.

Purnell’s message said the incident happened during lunch. Some students sheltered in their classrooms, and some were outside and moved to the football field.

District spokesman Aaron Harada said he did not immediately have additional details about what happened at the school or the condition of the student who was attacked. He said he believed the student had damaged some school property, but did not have details.

The lockdown occurred during the first week of school and comes as teachers have emphasized school safety and better tools for dealing with escalated students in their ongoing contract bargaining with the district.

Contact reporter Rachel Alexander: [email protected] or 503-575-1241.

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Rachel Alexander is Salem Reporter’s managing editor. She joined Salem Reporter when it was founded in 2018 and covers city news, education, nonprofits and a little bit of everything else. She’s been a journalist in Oregon and Washington for a decade. Outside of work, she’s a skater and board member with Salem’s Cherry City Roller Derby and can often be found with her nose buried in a book.