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Willoughby-Eastlake schools explain reason for lockdown

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WILLOUGHBY, Ohio - Willougby-Eastlake schools were locked down for a short time Tuesday by order of the police department. All students are safe.

According to a letter from the district that went out to parents, the Willoughby Police Department asked that all the schools be placed on lockdown.

According to Willoughby police, the Lake County Central Emergency Center received an open 911 call at around 10:30 a.m.

The dispatcher overheard a male making comments about constructing a pipe bomb, police said. A track of the call led authorities to believe the call was made just outside of Eastlake North High School. Police said, due to the location of the call, the schools were placed on lockdown as a precaution.  And, there was a strong police presence at the school buildings.

Eastlake police officers tracked the caller and explained what happened on the department's Facebook page:

"This morning the power went out for a short time at North High school and a conversation took place with some students. This conversation began after a phone connected to 911 on default after it was put away (pocket dial). During the conversation it was discussed about the “wires being cut” “we would all have to go to South”’”what about an active shooter.” Additional conversation continued about prior threats that have been discussed and handled within the district.

As soon as the open line was discovered by the student they self-reported to the assistant principal prior to EPD officers even arriving. The student was contrite, apologetic, and meant no harm. This incident will be turned over to the school with no charges being filed by the department. The department is satisfied with the outcome of the investigation.

We take this incident and everything related to the safety of our children in the schools very seriously and will continue to work with the district to make the schools as safe as possible."

Earlier Tuesday at around 7:30 a.m., police responded to Willoughby South High School for a large group of students fighting in the cafeteria area. The students were separated and nine students were arrested for assault and taken to the Lake County Detention Center.  A short time later, officers were on standby at the high school due to social media rumors of another fight.  No other incidents occurred.

Police said neither the fights nor the 911 call were related.

Steve Thompson, superintendent of Willougby-Eastlake schools, released the following statement to FOX 8 News:

“Unfortunately, there was a physical altercation between students at South High School this morning. These matters are always taken seriously and will not be tolerated.

Police were immediately called to the scene. The district will work with law enforcement agencies to ensure that all procedures are followed regarding consequences for this event. Students engaging in fights in school can be and have been suspended and at times expelled for these poor decisions. The local police depart can also file charges against them for their actions.

The focus of Willoughby-Eastlake is to maintain a safe environment that is conducive to learning and we will not tolerate disruptions to this goal. We will continue to place student safety and a quality education for all at the forefront of our daily practices.”

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