Report of possible shots fired led to action by district officials

A Lake Oswego school went into a lock-down procedure Wednesday afternoon after a city parks employee heard what sounded like gunshots in Westlake Park. Another witness heard the sound, too.

But Lake Oswego Police Sgt. Tom Hamann said police now believe the noise might have been fireworks. Students at Oak Creek Elementary School were not injured, nor were they in danger during the lock-down and no police incident occurred on local school campuses.

“Thus far we have not found any indication this was in fact gunshots,” Hamann said. “We have no reports of anyone who saw anyone firing shots and no reports of anyone injured. We’re believing at this point it was more likely it was fireworks. ... We don’t have any evidence to the contrary.”

The alarming noise was reported at about 2:50 p.m. Wednesday. At that point, he said, police notified area schools and recommended they lock down their buildings, although school administrators were responsible for making the final call.

Officers then evacuated Westlake Park. Hamann wasn’t sure how many people were moved from the site or how many law enforcement officials responded, but a K9 unit was called from Clackamas County, and a number of police officers responded to the scene.

The incident affected hundreds of students, but a count was not available as of press time.

In addition to the Oak Creek lock-down, Lake Oswego High School buses enroute to the Westlake area were sent back to the school, and Lake Grove Elementary School buses bound for the Westlake area were held at the school, Lake Oswego School District Communications Director Nancy Duin said.

The school district activated the emergency calling system for Lake Oswego High, Lake Oswego Junior High and Lake Grove and Oak Creek elementary schools. The system notifies students’ parents, guardians and emergency contacts of an incident. Lake Oswego Junior High had an early release day, but the school district wanted to inform students living in the area of the incident, Duin said. The district also sent out a tweet as well as an email to the parents, school employees and community members on its e-news list.

“I wanted parents to know we hadn’t had any incidents on campus,” Duin said. “This was something we were just doing as precautionary.”

District officials announced the lock-down was lifted about an hour later.

The last time Duin remembers the school district having a lock-down was last fall at Forest Hills Elementary School, Lake Oswego High and Lake Oswego Junior High because of a report of a murder and home invasion. Whether a lock-down is done is up to the police, she said.

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