Families wait on the lawn in front of North Salem High School to pick up students around 3 p.m. Friday, May 27, just after a lockdown caused by a "suspicious person" was lifted (Ardeshir Tabrizian/Salem Reporter)
This story was updated at 5:05 p.m. with more details from the Salem Police Department.
Two central Salem schools were on lockdown Friday afternoon for about an hour following a report of a person with a handgun near the school.
Salem police received a call around 1:30 p.m. reporting a man in a "sports-type mask" walking near the North Salem High School campus carrying a handgun, police said Friday.
"Patrol officers immediately responded, with the first two officers arriving within 40 seconds, and they began to search the area where the subject was reported to be seen. Four additional officers arrived within 60 seconds to assist in the search," Salem police said in a statement Friday afternoon.
North and neighboring Parrish Middle School were placed on lockdowns around 1:30 p.m. Friday, district spokesman Aaron Harada said. Officers searched the school and all outbuildings and did not locate a suspect, the police statement said.
"Due to the nature of this report, students and staff were asked to shelter in place and barricade their classrooms for a portion of time, which is one of our district safety protocols. The lockdown was lifted at approximately 2:50 p.m. after law enforcement cleared the building," Harada said.
Families at both schools were notified of the lockdown.
Paul Quach, a senior at North, told Salem Reporter in a text the school had been on a level three lockdown, where students are asked to barricade classroom doors and stay away from windows. Around 2:30 p.m., he said the lockdown was lowered to a level two, then about five minutes later to a level one. At level one, classrooms remain locked and students are asked to remain quiet, but regular instruction and classwork can continue.
Shortly after, the district said the lockdown was lifted.
"We are aware of misinformation being shared in the community, primarily on social media. We want to be very clear: There was not, at any time, an active shooter situation at North Salem High School or Parrish Middle School," Harada said in an email.
Salem police said an investigation is ongoing "to determine the facts surrounding the initial report of the suspicious person."
The district asked parents and guardians to pick up students at nearby Grant and Englewood elementary schools on Friday, the district said. Students were supervised at school until a parent or guardian was able to pick them up.
“I’m incredibly thankful for our safety and security team, our strong partnership with the Salem Police Department and their quick and thorough response to the report. At the core of our systems is prompt reporting. I’m sorry that we live in a world where schools need to respond in this way, but our staff and students at North Salem High School and Parrish Middle School did all the right things today," Superintendent Christy Perry said in a statement.
“The recent horrific shooting in Texas has our students, parents, and community on edge, understandably. From the start of the incident, we maintained good communication with the Salem-Keizer Public Schools staff who immediately initiated lockdown protocols," Salem police Chief Trevor Womack said in a statement.