BEND, Ore. - (Update: Correcting which school student went to)
A 16-year-old Marshall High School student who formerly attended Bend Senior High School was arrested on a disorderly conduct charge at his home Wednesday night, accused of threatening online to shoot several BSHS students, police said.
Lt. Clint Burleigh said guns were found at the teen’s home, but in a locked safe he did not have access to.
Police received information from Deschutes County 911 dispatchers at 3:40 p.m. Wednesday about the possibility a student was making threats to the school “over a popular media platform.” (NewsChannel 21 generally does not name juveniles who are not charged with adult crimes).
“Officers obtained enough information to believe (his) intent was to harm students at Bend Senior High School,” Burleigh said in a news release.
Officers went to the the student's home, arriving just after 9:30 p.m., and their investigation found that the teen “has been contemplating a shooting” at the school, Burleigh said. There were guns in the home, but in a safe and “are not accessible to him,” he added.
The teen was taken into custody and brought to St. Charles Bend for a mental health evaluation, then lodged at the county Juvenile Department early Thursday on a charge of first-degree disorderly conduct.
"We realize information in events like this can spread through social media quickly," Burleigh wrote. "We are asking if anyone has information regarding to this specific case to contact the Bend Police Department at 541-693-6911."
District Attorney John Hummel told News Channel 21 that "Bend police did a top-notch job on this investigation."
“I and my deputies are giving this case our full attention,” Hummel said. "We charged the suspect with the most serious crime we could prove. Thankfully, he did not take steps to follow through with his threat."
Burleigh said, "We have investigated three threats against schools in the last nine days, with this being the first deemed credible. This investigation is separate from the reports from this past weekend at Bend Senior High School."
It also was the second incident at Bend High and actually the fourth in the Bend area in just over a week, as there also was a threat at High Desert Middle School investigated by the Deschutes County Sheriff's Office, just outside the city limits. That student also was charged with first-degree disorderly conduct, as was another HDMS student accused of pulling a fire alarm, prompting evacuation of the school.
"The past week has been emotional and challenging for communities throughout the United States. Our community is not immune. We have worked with Bend-La Pine Schools throughout the past week, following up on any information that indicated any safety concerns to our schools. We are confident that this partnership has given students the confidence they could continue learning in a safe environment," Burleigh concluded.
Bend-La Pine Schools Superintendent Shay Mikalson sent this letter to parents Thursday evening:
"Dear Bend-La Pine Schools’ Community,
"My heart has been heavy over the last week, as I have reflected on the latest school tragedy and all those that have come before. My thoughts have been with our students, our staff, our families, and our community as we work to ensure the safety and well-being of Bend-La Pine Schools' students and staff.
"With that said, I must inform you that the Bend Police Department has just released publicly information about an investigation we have been working on together throughout the night. We can now report that a youth is in custody for making a credible threat against our schools. The police say that a 16-year-old male was planning a shooting at Bend Senior High School. This is the fourth threat we, in partnership with Bend Police, have investigated against our schools in the past nine days, but the only report deemed credible.
"This threat was reported to Bend Police late last night, who investigated and lodged the youth in juvenile jail before sunrise today. We are told he will remain there at least until arraignment on March 1. To say that I am concerned and deeply troubled by this youth’s alleged behavior would be an incredible understatement. However, I am incredibly grateful for the efforts of Bend-La Pine Schools’ staff, our proactive safety measures, Bend Police, and most for our culture of safety that emphasizes to all, “When you see something, say something.”
"I believe that all students and staff in our nation’s schools deserve to stay safe while learning and teaching.
"Bend-La Pine Schools addresses school safety through a comprehensive approach focusing on planning, prevention, intervention, and response. We have systems and programs to help ensure caring learning communities where students and staff feel safe and supported. The district also understands the importance of training and practicing emergency protocols with students and staff, using drills to prepare them to respond safely in a variety of emergency situations.
"I want to share just a few of the practical steps the district has taken to promote school safety:
"- We have strong partnerships with the Bend Police Department and Deschutes County Sheriff’s Office, allowing them quick access to our schools and ongoing collaboration and communication. This includes jointly funded School Resource Officers within our schools.
"- We have transformed our student threat assessment protocols to reflect the standards of best practices nationwide.
"- We are working to increase the security of our school entrances through improved visibility and visitor/volunteer management. Thanks to our successful school bond, we have also begun work to create secure lobbies for our schools that do not currently have them.
"- We continue to reinforce the importance of both active supervision (campus monitors, administrators, etc.) and passive supervision (cameras, etc.) inside and outside of our schools.
"- In December, we launched a new communication tool that allows students and families to report tips via safeoregon.com. This tool has proved critical over the last nine days.
"- We train staff and students using the Standard Response Protocol (SRP) for a lock down, lock out, and other safety-related responses. This is a nationally-recognized program providing an all-hazards approach to crisis response in a variety of scenarios.
"- Bend-La Pine Schools is a founding partner of the Safe Schools Alliance, promoting school safety through partnerships among families, education, mental health, community justice, and law enforcement.
"In times like these, staff and families can help students feel safe by establishing a sense of normalcy and security, talking with them openly about their fears, and reassuring them that schools are very safe places and dangerous events are rare. The National Association of School Psychologists provides more detailed recommendations in the resource, "Talking to Children about Violence: Tips for Parents and Teachers." In addition, our schools have additional human resources, including counselors, school psychologists, and other staff with personal connections to particular students. Finally, take this opportunity to talk with your students and children about the importance of speaking up right away if they ever become aware of a possible danger. We take every concern very seriously. Telling a trusted adult-a parent or school employee-is paramount.
"Both as superintendent and the father of students in our schools, I want to reiterate the importance of the safety of every single member of our Bend-La Pine Schools’ community-our students, staff, families, neighbors, and visitors alike. Together, we can continue to do our collective parts to ensure our schools are safe places to learn.
"Shay Mikalson, Superintendent"