The Columbia Falls School District enforced a district-wide precautionary soft lockdown this morning after an angry parent used language deemed threatening and then couldn’t be immediately located.
There were no direct threats, however, made to students or staff, according to the Columbia Falls Police Department and Superintendent of Schools Steve Bradshaw.
“It was more about the language and what we felt was his emotional state,” Bradshaw said.
The high school was initially placed under soft lockdown at roughly 8:45 a.m. after the principal received the phone call. As more information came to light, including a “high probability” that the man had a weapon, the decision was made to place the rest of the district under lockdown.
“We got more information as we went through the thing that raised concerns that I can’t go into because of the privacy of the people and because it may become a legal issue,” Bradshaw said. “I decided to lock down the rest of the district to be safe. We couldn’t locate the individual, which raised my alarm bells.”
Law enforcement ultimately located the man, and he was taken to a local hospital. The parent was apparently upset with an unspecified decision made at the high school.
Columbia Falls Police Chief Clint Peters said the man made “threats toward law enforcement as well as suicide by cop.”
“No direct threat was made toward students or staff,” Peters said in a statement. “This lockdown was precautionary. To ensure the safety of students and staff, law enforcement was on scene during the lockdown. The individual who made these threats is currently receiving medical attention at a local facility and law enforcement is with him.”
“There are no further threats to schools, students, or the public at this time,” Peters said.
Bradshaw said law enforcement has had prior interactions with the man.
“We just needed to make sure — because of situations in the past with the individual, we felt that we had a legitimate concern,” Bradshaw said.
“Originally we didn’t think there was any indication he had a weapon,” he added, “but later in the situation it was mentioned that that possibility existed, a high probability that it existed.”
The district notified parents of the lockdown, and Bradshaw said he understands that it was difficult for parents not to see their kids during the lockdown. In a soft lockdown, the doors are locked and nobody is allowed to enter or leave the building.
“It creates stress for parents, and I understand that stress — I have a grandchild in the district,” Bradshaw said. “But to ensure the safety of the children, we had to lock down. I’m hoping parents can understand.”