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Portage Township Media

Portage Township Media

County-Wide Lockdowns After Threatening Calls


A sixteen-year-old boy in Ohio has been identified as a suspect who made threatening phone

calls to several Porter County schools on the morning of January 26. The suspect was taken into police custody later that day and is awaiting charges, according to the Valparaiso Police

Department. At this time, neither the suspect’s name nor his motivations have been made public as police in Portage, Valparaiso, and Hobart continue to investigate.

Around 9:30 AM, toward the end of second mod, an intercom message announced that Portage High School would be placed under lockdown. Practiced procedures were carried out by students and staff, which included locking the doors, turning off the lights, and hiding in designated areas within the classroom. About 8 minutes later, parents were notified of the lockdown and were reassured that the students were secure in their classrooms.

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Upon realizing that it was not a drill, many students went into a panic. Rumors began to circulate across social media and through text, speculating a threat inside of the neighboring Meijer grocery store, an intruder within the building, and that the high schools in Valparaiso, Hobart, and Wheeler had also been placed under lockdown.


Not all of the information spread online was negative or hearsay. At 9:44 AM, students, staff,

and parents were informed by the Portage Police Department via a statement on Facebook,

confirming that a phone call was made out to the school threatening violence later that day. They also stated that there would be an increased police presence to investigate the situation. A total of fifteen police vehicles descended on the school, with some blocking the entrances and exits to the parking lots. As students and staff remained in their classrooms, police searched the halls to secure the building. The fire department also mobilized and arrived at the school shortly after the police search commenced.


The lockdown lasted for a little under 30 minutes. Around 10:00 AM classes were permitted to

resume their usual activities. Police had determined that there was no credible threat, and thus

lifted the lockdown. However, a lockout was still in place, with no one allowed in or out of the

classrooms without the accompaniment of an SRO officer or an administrator. Parents were

promptly updated on the change in status, via the school broadcast text and voice messaging



At 10:55, students were dismissed for the day. Parents were given the option to pick up their

children at doors B and C, and for the remainder, buses returned to the school to transport

students home. Staff and administrators stayed at school for a little while longer, and had an

emergency meeting to debrief. All afterschool activities were canceled.


Principal Mike Stills and Associate Principal Brian Jones expressed their pride in how students

and staff handled the situation on INN the next morning.


“As we were going throughout the building during that lockdown and in further lockout drills, it seemed like there’s nobody in the building. It seemed like it’s completely vacant, and it’s all due to you as well as your teachers, coaching you up, and having high expectations. Couldn’t say how much and how proud I am of each and every one of you,” Jones stated.


The responses of everyone involved, from the school administration, teachers, police officers and the students themselves were exemplary. They proved that Portage High School could act

quickly and safely during an emergency.

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