June 20, 2024

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From Kalapuya lands in the Willamette watershed

WillaG, YMCA staff respond to gunfire in parking lot ‘with expertise and calm’

3 min read
4J Superintendent Andy Dey: We are eternally grateful that no one was physically harmed... We're thankful for their physical safety, yet sad that our students grow up in an age where they're asked to prepare for and navigate situations such as these.

Shots fired in an elementary school parking lot. At the 4J school board meeting Feb. 7:

Andy Dey (4J superintendent): Madam Chair, members of the board, members of the audience. I’m sorry I couldn’t be there with you this evening, but I’m traveling on district business. In lieu of my planned comments this evening, I’m instead compelled to acknowledge unsettling events that transpired at Willagillespie Elementary School this afternoon.

[00:00:24] After dismissal and the departure of our families and most of our students, the staff of the building heard the one thing that no school is fully prepared to hear—gunfire outside their building.

[00:00:33] With expertise and calm, the team swiftly responded by calling 911 and placing the building into lockdown. No one can accurately predict how they will respond in emergency situations such as this. But by all reports, this team’s training went into effect that they navigated the incident admirably.

[00:00:53] Members of the WillaG team in partnership with their colleagues from the YMCA kept the students in their care safe and calm until law enforcement notified the building that they could move into a secure status and begin reunification with waiting families.

[00:01:06] No one was physically injured.

[00:01:09] District staff convened then to prepare supports, including additional substitutes to respond for the remainder of the week, to allow for staff to step away and care for themselves and their colleagues as they process the moment.

[00:01:21] Trained counselors and staff jumped into action, ensuring that care teams will be in place to help students navigate their feelings and reassure them that their school is a safe place.

[00:01:32] Additionally, I cannot overstate our gratitude to our partners at the Eugene Police Department, whose swift response and location of the involved individuals put our mind at much greater ease.

[00:01:44] While we are eternally grateful that no one was physically harmed, we recognize incidents such as this impact the mental health of our students, our staff, and our broader community.

[00:01:53] We’re thankful for their physical safety, yet sad that our students grow up in an age where they’re asked to prepare for and navigate situations such as these.

[00:02:04] Again, I express my gratitude to the staff, students, and responders to this afternoon’s incident, and my thanks to the community that has reached out to share their support. My heart goes out to everyone that was at that school and everyone whose child was there.

[00:02:19] I know how incredibly scary and painful that must be. And we will continue to focus on safety and learn from this incident to be better in the future.

[00:02:27] John Q: Eugene Police said callers at 3:29 p.m. reported shots fired from a blue Ford Explorer. A short time later, police spotted and pursued the vehicle, which attempted to drive across a field and into a creek near Green Hill north of Royal. Police arrested and charged three males in the shooting, ages 17, 19, and 20; two were from Portland. Police said some vehicles in the elementary school parking lot were struck by bullets.

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