Attempted armed robbery puts local schools in lockdown

Goldie Cameron, News Reporter

On Friday, Feb. 17, two shots were fired in an attempted robbery on Sprague Avenue. At 8:35 a.m., the Walla Walla Police Department (WWPD) received a phone call reporting the shots fired. Given the proximity of local schools, WWPD contacted Garrison Middle School and Lincoln High School, which were put on a temporary lockdown.

WWPD found no indication of violence against the school, and after about twelve minutes, the lockdown order was lifted. The robbery took place when a man was confronted in his house by two 18-year-olds whom he was familiar with. The victim was not struck, and the two fled the scene.

Director of Communications at Walla Walla Public Schools District Offices Mark Higgins released a statement in which he talked about the process by which the lockdown occurred.

 “Garrison Middle School and Lincoln High School were instructed by police to lockdown at approximately 8:55 a.m. due to police activity in the neighborhood near the schools. These schools were promptly and safely placed in lockdown as instructed by police,” the statement reads. “Police instructed the district to lift this lockdown at approximately 9:05 a.m.” 

Higgins commented on how the schools plan to deal with issues like this moving forward.

“Walla Walla Public Schools regularly participates in exercises and advanced training to ensure we are able to respond swiftly and appropriately if such a situation occurs,” Higgins said. “Our pledge to you is that we will always err on the side of communication if a situation occurs on any of our campuses involving a threat or safety event.” 

Later in the morning on Feb. 17, the man who was the subject of the attempted robbery identified both suspects. WWPD tracked down their vehicle and placed the suspects in custody.  

Law enforcement and the school district acted swiftly to ensure the safety of all parties. Sergeant Nick Loudermilk of WWPD gave a statement on how to act in response to potential threats, like this one.

“In a lockdown situation where there is an active threat to the school, we would ask for parents to be patient and follow the instructions given at the time. The scene will be chaotic,” Loudermilk said. “Police, fire and school staff will be working together to stop the threat, render aid if needed and get the students out of the situation safely and back to their families. As for the students, know the lockdown procedure and take the information and drills seriously.” 

Both of the suspects were arrested on charges of assault in the first degree and attempted robbery. Another person was also taken into custody as an accomplice to the charges.

Loudermilk confirmed that this was an isolated event, and although there was another robbery a week later on Feb. 24, the two incidents were unrelated. 

All three suspects are awaiting charges, and the investigation is ongoing.