A call to the Palo Alto County Sheriff's Office late Friday afternoon prompted a precautionary lockdown of an area high school for a few minutes.
According to Theresa Alesch, Principal of the Graettinger-Terril High School, school personnel received a call form the Palo Alto County Communications Center around 3 p.m. on Friday, Aug. 30, advising the school that a citizen living near the school had reported hearing a loud noise, similar to a gun shot, coming from the area of the school in Graettinger.
"We took precautions to check the campus for anything or anyone suspicious or out of place," Alesch noted. "We then received a subsequent phone call from the Communications Center advising us to go into Lockdown while officers were on their way to make sure the area was safe and secure."
Upon arrival in the area of the school, Sheriff Lynn Schultes and Deputy Eric Ring, along with Trooper Kevin Krull of the Iowa State Patrol canvassed the area around the school and spoke with residents to try and determine what had been heard and where the sound had come from. After checking the area, the Palo Alto County Sheriff's Department concluded the noise came from an engine backfiring.
Once the cause of the noise was determined, the school was contacted to end the precautionary lockdown. While the Lockdown in Graettinger was in effect, shuttle buses that would have normally transported students from the Terril attendance center were held in Terril as a precaution until the situation was resolved around 3:30 p.m.
"We apologize that we were unable to notify you via school alerts," Alesch said in a statement e-mailed to parents following the incident. "Since we could not, we used email and the school's website. We are taking extra precautions to insure our School Alert System is properly in place and will update you on our communication plan very soon."