A fourth Oak Harbor student in less than a month has been charged with making a gun-related threat, though the most recent case was for an incident that occurred back in February.
Prosecutors charged the 17-year-old Oak Harbor High School student in Island County Juvenile Court June 8 with making a threat to bomb or injure property.
Assistant Superintendent Dwight Lundstrom wrote in an email that school safety is “of the utmost importance” for Oak Harbor Public Schools.
“Despite the recent string of student threats, the vast majority of our students are doing the right thing, enjoying the school year and are engaged learners,” he wrote. “However, with any student threat, we work directly with the Oak Harbor Police Department to ensure the safest learning environment for staff and students. In addition, staff conduct thorough threat assessments that include the following: the student that made the threat, the family of that student, and school personnel that work with the student.”
Lundstrom wrote that students’ words and actions have “serious consequences when they intimidate, harass, or threaten students, schools, or staff.”
Under the definition of the crime, prosecutors alleged that the boy “did threaten to bomb or otherwise injure any public or private school building; or did communicate or repeat any information concerning such a threatened bombing or injury, knowing such information to be false and with intent to alarm the person or persons to whom the information is communicated or repeated.”
Officials at the high school reported to police on Feb. 25 that two students had made comments about blowing up and shooting up the school, according to a police report on the incident. An administrator told police that staff searched the boys and their cars and found a splatter-ball gun and empty marijuana containers, the officer wrote.
Over the next month, the investigator interviewed several students who were present when the alleged threats were made. Some were frightened by the comments and worried about their safety.
The report indicates that the suspected student was upset because the area where he and his friends usually ate lunch was blocked off. He alleged walked over to the group of kids, slammed his hands on the table and said he was mad and was going to shoot up and bomb the school, the report states. Another student agreed, apparently jokingly. They also talked about pulling a bazooka out of a friend’s bag, the report states.
In addition, some of the students said they were upset because the boys were using homophobic slurs, according to the report.
A parent of the boy who was charged, however, told the officer that her son denied saying those things and that they were only talking about Ukraine and Russia and what they would do if invaders came to America, the report states.
In recent weeks, prosecutors have charged four students with gun-related charges.
On May 17, a middle school student was charged for allegedly warning another student in class not to come to classes the next day because he was going to shoot up the school. On May 25, a 12-year-old boy at Oak Harbor Intermediate School was charged for allegedly threatening to bring a gun to school to shoot other students and then himself. On June 1, prosecutors charged a 14-year-old middle school student with stalking, unlawful possession of a firearm and felony harassment for allegedly threatening a fellow student with a gun outside of class; his family claims that the police investigation was flawed.
“While we live in a time of heightened safety awareness, and we encounter a tenor of underlying anger daily, we need to model and teach our children to be kind, treat each other with empathy, seek to understand multiple perspectives, and continue to report threatening behaviors,” Lundstrom wrote. “Our students have done an admirable job of saying something when they have a concern, and we must all do our part to maintain safety in Oak Harbor and in our schools.”