Crime

Police presence increased at North Thurston High School after accusations of threat

North Thurston High School saw an increased police presence Thursday after a group of students alleged that a male student had made threats against the school.

So far, Lacey police haven’t found any evidence that the student — a friend of the boy accused of firing two shots inside the school Monday — has made any threats against the school or any students, said Sgt. Terrence Brimmer.

“We’re still trying to find out exactly what’s going on, exactly what this kid might have said,” Brimmer said Thursday afternoon. “So far we’ve talked to eight or nine kids about this, but no one can corroborate the story.”

Police searched the student’s home and found no evidence of a threat. School administrators have issued an emergency expulsion of the student, Brimmer said.

Detectives, in addition to the school’s regular student resource officer, have been posted at the school since Monday’s incident.

“At one point we had our whole detective division out there,” Brimmer said.

Rumors of the Thursday threat seem to have stemmed from an argument between the shooting suspect’s friend and another group of students. The friend allegedly told the group that he felt for the suspect — not that he supported his decision to fire a gun at school, but that he understood what the boy was going through emotionally, Brimmer said.

Students allege that the friend said the suspect brought the gun to school because he was bullied, and that the friend said, “When you bully someone, that’s what happens.”

But police haven’t found any evidence that the friend said that, Brimmer said.

“He’s being very cooperative,” Brimmer said. “He’s adamant that he hasn’t made any threats. But this gentleman has had some issues with the school before.”

None of the issues have involved violence.

North Thurston Public Schools spokeswoman Courtney Schrieve said classes operated as usual Thursday. She said about 20 percent of students were absent. Extra counselors were at the school for kids who needed to talk about the situation.

“School staff worked extremely hard today to support our students and get the learning process back on track,” said Steve Rood, North Thurston high school principal and parent. “It’s challenging, but we are all here for kids. We continue to appreciate the amazing daily support of our parent and law enforcement community. This outpouring of support for the Ram community is truly making a positive difference.”

Tomorrow the entire district and community are encouraged to show their support for NTHS by wearing purple for a “Purple Pride” day.

Police officers will remain in the school at least until the end of the week. “We want to give them support until everything settles down,” Brimmer said.

Worry about school security wasn’t confined to North Thurston High School on Thursday. Tenino High School was locked down for 15 minutes just before noon.

“The district received word there was a possible threat to one of our students from an individual in the community,” Tenino superintendent Joe Belmonte told The Olympian. “As a precaution, with student safety as our utmost priority, the high school was placed into a lockdown until the individuals involved were located by police.”

None of the schools 400 students were in danger at any point, Belmonte said.

“Our students did a wonderful job of securing the building, though the lockdown happened during lunch time,” he said. “We are very proud of their response.

“Certainly the most recent events at North Thurston have made everyone in Tenino more vigilant,” Belmonte said.

Meanwhile, the 16-year-old suspect in Monday’s shooting is in custody at the Thurston County Juvenile Detention Facility. No one was injured in Monday’s gunfire, but the boy is facing five charges: theft of a firearm, felony harassment, possession of a dangerous weapon on school grounds, unlawful possession of a firearm and unlawful discharge of a firearm.

Bail was set at $500,000, and he will likely appear in court again next week. In the meantime, the boy is undergoing a mental evaluation.

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