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The MIHS Islander

The Student News Site of Mercer Island High School

The MIHS Islander

The Student News Site of Mercer Island High School

The MIHS Islander

False Report of Armed Burglary Caused MIHS Lockdown

Photo courtesy Mercer Island Police Department
Photo courtesy Mercer Island Police Department

This article was updated on Jan. 13, 2022 in response to new information.

On Wednesday, Jan. 11, at 2:44 p.m., MIHS went into security lockdown due to an alleged house burglary in the area that turned out to be a false claim. MIHS students, staff and families were both confused and fearful about the situation due to the lack of situational details provided by the MIPD and the school.

Near the corner of SE 40th St. and 86th Ave. SE, a Mercer Island resident called 911 at 2:32 p.m., claiming that a man with an electric cattle prod weapon was breaking into the house with the intention of either killing or raping her, saying “he’s going to f**k me.” She claimed to be in a friend’s house by herself. She appeared to be in distress and at first alleged that the man was inside the house with her, but then said she was not sure whether he was inside or outside the house.

It is unclear why the caller was in a friend’s house alone at the time of the call. According to the 911 call, which The Islander received via public record request, she then seemed to exit the house and run down the street. She abruptly ended the call, and when NORCOM, the local 911 agency, tried to reach her again, the call went straight to voicemail. The police report of the incident also noted that the MIPD “had dealt with the [caller] earlier [in the day] at her residence for a mental/emotional call.”

Several MIPD units arrived on scene at 2:37 p.m., but no one was found at the property. They searched the entire residence and found no evidence of the purported crime.

In the following 10 minutes, NORCOM called Northwood Elementary, MIHS, the Mercer Island Boys and Girls Club and St. Monica Catholic School advising them to go into lockdown.

MIHS received no information other than that there was “an incident in the area”. At 2:47 p.m., NORCOM sent out an update to the schools to remain in lockdown. By 2:56 p.m., all the schools had been notified that they could end the lockdown.

Despite the eventual all-clear signal, many MIHS students were panicked about the situation, many students texting or calling their guardians to notify them of the situation.

“During the lockdown, I felt very scared and unsure because of the lack of information that was communicated to students, which I recognize was probably a result of policies that needed to be followed–but it was terrifying,” an MIHS student said.

In regard to student concerns, MIHS security liaison Kelly John-Lewis offered a different perspective.

“I know a lot of people got scared, and their minds went wandering to the worst scenario, and that’s [interesting] because if you feel safe in this environment, why would you go to the worst scenario at first thought?” John-Lewis said.

“I think [the school] should have [provided more information to students/staff], because it would have made a lot more people at ease, […] but at the same time, when something like that happens, you can’t expect to be given details until it’s actually concluded.”

“I think that as students and as staff, we need to start taking our drills more seriously, and understand[ing] that […] these things can really happen, so when we do our drills, we ask everyone to participate and take those drills seriously.”

Some MIHS students believe their teachers could have taken more precautionary measures during the lockdown.

“While I’m hearing of some inconsistencies in our school of how we handle[d] things in our classrooms […] there were some issues with subs, there were some issues with barricading [classroom doors], and some other pieces of lockdown that we need to clean up, the vast majority of our classrooms and our students and our staff responded exactly the way that we wanted them to,” MIHS principal Nick Wold said.

Despite the confusion and panic caused by the lockdown and the lack of immediately available information about the alleged crime, MIHS’s lockdown serves as a valuable demonstration that the school has rehearsed procedures in place to keep students and staff safe.


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Ashwin Krishnaswamy
Ashwin Krishnaswamy, Features Editor & Website Manager
Ashwin Krishnaswamy is a junior and in his third year in Journalism. He is excited to be features editor and website manager this year. Outside of school, Ashwin enjoys playing jazz piano and saxophone, running, and reading science and fiction books.  

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