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Billings West High students shelter in place after 3 incidents

Weste High shelter.jpg
Posted at 1:17 AM, Aug 31, 2023
and last updated 2023-08-31 12:35:59-04

BILLINGS - Some tense moments at Billings West High School with shelter in place on Wednesday.

That decision came after three separate incidents.

Shades on the windows were pulled, doors were locked and closed in the classrooms and students waited it out for about 15 minutes.

Neighbors near West High School called police about suspicious behavior and an officer suggested the shelter in place.

"Basically stay in the rooms, don't go in the halls, don't go use the bathroom," said Axel Dotterweich, a junior at West. "Stay in the class until the shelter in place is lifted."

Dotterweich was at the career center when the incidents and shelter-in-place happened on Wednesday morning, but she's been through similar drills.

"We do stay calm," Dotterweich said about students during a shelter-in-place. "Teachers definitely show that, present that to students because they know that raising panic is not going to do any good. People can get hurt when they're raising panic. So it's just a mental thing."

Students say they did not know the reason for the shelter in place and everyone knew what to do.

"They announced they were having it," said Robert Tushka, a senior at West. "Everyone just kind of followed as they should, as they were locking the doors, making sure everything is secure and just kind of went on with class."

"Everyone was very calm about it," said Xavior Commissaris, a sophomore at West. "Everyone was just asking what was happening, asking questions about it."

Garcia alerted parents partly on the School District 2 Facebook page.

"The gentleman apparently was looking into cars and vehicles around the area and houses," Garcia said. "We had another individual apparently stopping girls coming to the school and asking them questions, random questions. Then we have another report of another person actually talking to the girls and saying some improprieties."

Parents commented on Facebook, thankful for the information.

Garcia said police have a license plate number and the school district is doing what it can to help with the investigation.

"We definitely take this seriously," Garcia said. "We want to make sure that every child that comes to school feels safe."

"I feel very safe, honestly," said Tushka.

"I feel safe," said Commissaris.

"The safety here is really good," Dotterweich said.