When a trench coat wearing, shotgun toting disgruntled student walked into Oregon’s Parkrose High School yesterday intending to kill, he didn’t get to fire a single shot.
The incident saved who knows how many lives and shows a growing trend among American citizens who are not going to willingly bow down to the evil that seems to be increasing.
Oregon Live reported on the Friday incident:
Lowe, also Parkrose’s head track and field coach, works as a security guard at the school, several people said.
“I’m just happy everyone was OK,” Lowe said as he walked out of the school’s fine arts building into a school parking lot shortly after police had cleared the school and talked to witnesses. “I’m happy I was able to be there for the kids and for the community.”
He said he was tired and wanted to go home to his loved ones. Several people greeted him in the parking lot.
Two men shook Lowe’s hand and one woman hugged him and told him, “Thank you.”
A police officer on a dispatch recording can be heard saying that he detected “what smells like a blast here at some point” but police later said they hadn’t determined whether any shots were actually fired. Several students said they didn’t hear any gunshots.
“Incidents such as the one that occurred today strikes the worst fear in the hearts of students and parents,” Police Chief Danielle Outlaw said in a statement. “The officers and school staff worked together to respond quickly and ensure the safety of all involved. I commend the school staff member who displayed quick actions and bravery when he confronted the subject.”
Senior Alexa Pope, 17, said she was in her government class in the stand-alone fine arts building when the coach came in looking for an 18-year-old classmate who wasn’t there.
About 10 minutes before the end of class, the student appeared in the doorway in a trench coat and pulled out a long gun from beneath his coat, said senior Justyn Wilcox, 17, who also was in the room.
The student didn’t point the gun at anyone, Pope said. Classmates were stunned, some screamed and others ran out.
“We all couldn’t process this,” she said.
Wilcox yelled “Run!” and grabbed Pope’s arm. They fled out the classroom’s backdoor, which leads to another classroom. The armed student was at the classroom’s main door, which leads to a hallway.
“As I was running, I was just like, ‘Lord don’t let this be it,’” Pope said.
She said the suspect student had told classmates that he could buy guns when he turned 18, and she knew he owned one.
“He’s always been an off kid, but he never made me think that he would do something to us,” she said.
She had noticed that he had seemed somewhat different over the past few months, possibly because of a break-up with his girlfriend, she said.
Senior Ashton Caudle, 18, said the student with the gun had transferred to Parkrose this school year. Caudle said he and some other students had planned to talk to a school counselor about their classmate at lunchtime, saying he had recently told them he planned to kill himself and had been asking about what happens after people die.
They were worried he might hurt himself, Caudle said. The student “made some poor choices, but he’s not an evil person,” he said.
Preston Anderson, 17, and Sair Nunez, 19, were also in the government class when the armed student walked into the room.
Nunez said he saw the student was holding a gun. Students ran out, Nunez said.
“I didn’t think twice,” he said. “I ran out the back door.”
Anderson said the student didn’t fire the gun.
“We didn’t hear anything go off,” he said. “All we know is that Mr. Lowe subdued him and held him down.”
As the confrontation unfolded, an online city dispatch tracker referred to the incident as a suicide attempt or threat with weapon. A parent said students reported that the suspect had brought a gun to the school with the intention of dying by suicide.
Police haven’t released details about the suspect’s intentions. A police spokesman said the suspect was in custody and being interviewed.
“At some point, a staff member at the high school confronted him,” police said in a statement. “A Portland Police School Resource Officer and other officers arrived and immediately entered the school and found the staff member detaining the subject in the hallway.”
Multiple Parkrose students told The Oregonian/OregonLive they were initially locked in their classrooms shortly after police responded.
Sharie Lewis, a Parkrose School District official, said police split students into groups and were checking them individually to ensure they weren’t a threat. The students were loaded onto buses and dropped off at the parking lot of a shuttered Kmart near the school.
Lewis called the names of the students through a megaphone, and they were reunited with their parents.
Some reunifications were emotional. One girl broke into tears. The reunification process was mostly complete by about 3 p.m.
Jesika Diaz, 36, was one of the parents who showed up at the parking lot to reconnect with her children. She found out about what happened when one of her twin daughters called her from outside the school on a stranger’s cellphone.
Diaz said daughter Felicia Feigum, a senior at Parkrose, was in a classroom when someone came in with a gun. Feigum told her mom that she “saw the butt of the gun and she ran so she didn’t really see what happened.”
Feigum left all her belongings behind and called her sister, who was elsewhere on campus, and then called her mom.
“I’m so proud of them because they could have been locked in the school,” Diaz said as she waited for her daughters to finish speaking with investigators. “She ran for her life like I’ve always told her to do.”
Dozens of officers remained at the scene Friday afternoon, and yellow police tape surrounded the tennis courts near the Fine Arts building. Members of the Portland Police Bureau’s tactical team could be seen leaving the building.
The superintendent of the Parkrose School District, which serves six schools and approximately 3,400 students, also was at the scene.
Superintendent Michael Lopes Serrao sent out a letter to families later Friday, saying the student with the gun would not be returning to school and that school would resume as usual Monday. “We will have additional counseling support for students and staff at the school throughout the week,” he wrote. “Additionally, there will be an enhanced security presence to provide a sense of comfort to our students and staff.”
And, he added, the Parkrose junior/senior prom, set for Saturday night, would go on as planned. “We will prepare our chaperone staff for students who may need support,” he wrote. “It is important for our students to connect and make memories with their friends . . . We are Parkrose Strong and showed that strength today.”
Lowe, the coach who subdued the suspect, is a Jesuit High School graduate and former star wide receiver for the Oregon Ducks. This past football season was his first as Parkrose’s football coach.
Several seniors on the football team described Lowe as a genuine, selfless coach who inspired his players and changed the program’s culture. The team made the playoffs in Lowe’s first year, a big jump from the previous season’s winless record.
“He pushes everyone to be the best versions of themselves,” said Ty Singkhek, 18.
Lowe was effective not only as coach but also as the school’s security guard – getting students to listen by treating everyone with respect, said Tim Shichalin, 18.
“He stays really calm all the time,” he said.
Lowe hosted a team barbecue at his house last summer and paid for players to eat at Kumi Buffet after a big win during the season, said Elijah Reginald, 18.
Reginald said Lowe, in only one year at Parkrose, made an immense impact – even before what happened Friday.
“I think he deserves a lot of credit for his bravery,” Reginald said. “If it wasn’t for him, someone could have gotten hurt or potentially lost their life.”
Freshman Miracle Jackson was sitting in the cafeteria when she saw a school official run toward the door, and heard the word “shooter” come over a walkie-talkie that the man was carrying.
She said she looked out the window and believes she saw a glimpse of the student. Then she packed up her backpack and ran.
“I dropped it because I couldn’t run fast enough,” she said.
She ran out of the school and didn’t feel safe until she made it to a nearby Wendy’s.
Junior Griffin Clover was among an early group of students to arrive at the parking lot of the Kmart where parents and family members waited for students to arrive. He remained there with his parents, waiting for his younger brother.
Clover said he was in a video class when three classmates ran into the room to tell the others that there was an active shooter. The students and teacher locked down the room, shut off the lights and huddled in silence in the back of the room.
Many students were texting their parents and classmates, he said, and showing others what they were learning by text.
A senior-class group chat kept students throughout the building informed, many students said.
Clover estimated that his class waited for 30 minutes until police arrived and escorted them to the school’s weight room, where they waited another hour to board the bus.
Students go through lockdown drills at least twice a year, Clover said.
“We’ve practiced lockdown drills but no evacuations,” he said.
Many people argue that liberal policies that have removed God and all natural forms of aggression from the public school system has spawned these disgruntled weirdos.
Regardless of the reason, defending others from harm is heroic, and that’s what Lowe did, and continues to do for the community.