The Bainbridge Island School District and staff at Bainbridge High will take new safety measures at the high school following an incident Wednesday afternoon where a man entered BHS and assaulted two students.
Bainbridge High, and other schools in the district, were put on immediate lockdown after the intruder was reported to school staff. The man believed to be the intruder was later arrested five blocks away after police boxed in his car on Wallace Way after a frantic one-hour search for the man.
Bainbridge Island Police Chief Matthew Hamner said the man, 32, would be charged on investigation of felony sexual assault, felony voyeurism, felony battery of a police officer and burglary.
District Superintendent Peter Bang-Knudsen announced late Wednesday that new security precautions would be taken at Bainbridge High, starting Thursday, and that police would remain on campus through the rest of the week.
“Beginning tomorrow, we will reduce the number of unlocked entry points to buildings on the BHS campus,” Bang-Knudsen said in a message posted on the district’s website.
“During tomorrow’s BHS student advisory period, staff will review the new safety measures and remind students of the importance of speaking up if something or someone seems suspicious. A police officer from the Bainbridge Island Police Department will also be on campus for the remainder of the week,” he added.
Bainbridge students returned to class this week following the mid-winter break holiday.
Bang-Knudsen noted the recent mass shooting at a high school in Parkland, Florida, and added assurances that school safety has been under review by Bainbridge officials.
“I realize that this incident comes on the heels of heightened concerns regarding school safety following the recent tragic event in Florida. We have been studying school safety for a couple of years and are currently in the process of examining our facilities to see if retrofits can be made to enhance school safety. We are also evaluating which additional campus security measures we can take,” Bang-Knudsen wrote. “These changes will require a community conversation so please be on the lookout for information to come out soon.”
Hamner said the incident remained under investigation.
Details of the assaults at the high school were not detailed by officials. Early reports were that a suspicious man entered the main building at BHS, paused to look at display cabinets, then followed a female student into a restroom. The student then quickly exited and alerted school staff that the man was looking under stall doors in the restroom.
The high school was put on lockdown — along with Commodore, Ordway Elementary and the school district office — as Bainbridge police and units from off-island began looking for the man and his car.
The third student was allegedly assaulted by the man south of the BHS campus while police were looking for him.