Oak-Land Junior High in Lake Elmo was on lockdown this morning, Jan. 11, as authorities searched for theft suspects in the area.
Parents of students at the junior high school were first notified of the lockdown just before 8 a.m. this morning, said Dennis Bloom, the director of operations for the Stillwater Area School District. The notification was then sent out district-wide at about 8:20 a.m.
The notification read:
“Attention Parents, Oak-Land Junior High School is currently in a Preventitive (sic) Lockdown. All students are in their first hour and safe. Washington County is on site and monitoring outside. No threat is in the building. Washington County orderd (sic) the lockdown due to the schools proximity of a police event.”
Police activity for the search of theft suspects began in the area around 5:30 a.m.
"It's really a precautionary thing," Tom Frazer, Washington County communications coordinator said of the lockdown.
“We try to get the information out as soon as we have the information from police and our emergency team in place,” Bloom said. “Our main goal is to get the plan in place, secure the school and inform parents of what is going on as soon as possible. Our main concern is the safety of the students.”
The notifications—phone calls, emails and text messages—were sent to parents via the School Messenger system.
The notification process probably wasn’t as fast as it could have been due to the district’s communications director being on vacation, Bloom said. But as soon as the plan was in place, parents were notified.
Parents were notified that the lockdown was over through another message at about 9:15 a.m.
That message read:
“Attention Parents. Washington County has lifted the lock-down at Oak-Land Junior High. Precautionary measures were taken due to an event that took place outside the school. The event did not involve the school and at this time normal school activities will resume.”
Police detained two people, one of whom said the suspect may be armed, Frazer said.
He said no one was spotted near the school, just across Interstate 94 from Woodbury, but the suspects were thought to be in the general vicinity of the building. Gruber Pallets, which is in the area, was also locked down.
The suspects reportedly were breaking into vehicles and trying to steal them in Cimarron. Aside from the two in custody, two others got away.
The school was placed in lockdown as a precautionary measure due to the safety and security protocols of being within a one-mile radius of a potential situation.