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Shooting threat gets student arrested, expelled

A South Whidbey High School student who allegedly made a threat to shoot his schoolmates Tuesday was found by a judge this week to have likely broken the law.

During a hearing in Island County Superior Court Wednesday, Judge Alan Hancock said he found probable cause that the student -- who is a minor -- violated a state law that prohibits intimidation through threat in Washington schools and related facilities.

Testifying about the incident that brought the boy to court, Island County Sheriff's Deputy Frank Gomez, who was the arresting officer in the case, said he learned about the threat from the boy's bus driver. Gomez said the driver told him the boy got on the bus Tuesday morning and stated that he would bring a gun to school and "shoot people."

The driver also said the boy made a shooting motion with his thumb and forefinger.

Gomez said that when he interviewed the boy, the young suspect told him that he was not serious when he made the threat.

The boy's arrest and expulsion this week from school come as a result of both the school district's and the sheriff office's policies of zero tolerance of violent threats in schools. Lt. Evan Tingstad, South Whidbey's sheriff precinct commander, said his agency takes all threats seriously and presses charges for any such incident.

The boy, who is a foster child, lives in a household that has guns. However, the boy's foster father, Francis Campbell, testified Wednesday that the boy cannot access the weapons. He said all his firearms have trigger locks, are locked in a cabinet in a locked room, and are stored separately from ammunition and ammunition clips.

Margot Carter, the juvenile affairs prosecutor for Island County, said the boy will have to appear in court again once formal charges are filed through the Island County Sheriff's Office. He was released after Wednesday's hearing into the custody of his foster parents.

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