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Friday, August 23, 2019  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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News >  Washington

Colfax student arrested for alleged threat

By Josh Babcock Lewiston Tribune

COLFAX – One week after a shooting at Freeman High School left one student dead and three others injured, a Colfax High School student was arrested Friday morning for allegedly posting on social media he was “going to shoot up the school.”

Police and school officials said the threatening Snapchat post was made Thursday after a teacher told the student he couldn’t leave class for a doctor’s appointment.

Colfax School Superintendent Jerry Pugh said three students who saw the Snapchat post went to a Colfax High School counselor to report the post. Police were notified at about 5 p.m.

Pugh said when counselors were notified the school was out of session and the student who allegedly made the threat had already left campus. He said the threat had no effect on school operations Thursday evening or during Friday’s school day, but it did upset students who saw it.

While most Snapchat posts disappear once they are viewed, the post in question was part of the student’s Snapchat Story and could be viewed multiple times, allowing students to report the threat.

“He posted this (Thursday) during one of his classes,” Colfax Police Chief Rick McNannay said. “He was apparently trying to get out of school early for an appointment and was denied; I guess that was his response.”

McNannay doesn’t believe the threat was a way to force getting out of class, but rather a post made out of pure frustration because he couldn’t leave.

“I’m hoping it was a very poor choice in judgment,” he said. “There was nothing that led us to believe there was going to be an immediate assault; we didn’t find an arsenal.”

McNannay said police arrested the student and seized a .22-caliber rifle, pellet guns and other toy guns that looked real from the student’s home Thursday night.

He said everything was owned by the student except the rifle, which belonged to his parents.

As of Friday afternoon, the student remained in custody at Martin Hall. His bond was set at $50,000 during his first appearance Friday. He’s been charged with felony threatening to bomb or injure property, which has a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $20,000.

McNannay and Pugh said the threat wasn’t taken lightly.

“Everyone in education, we’re all sensitive from what happened at Freeman,” Pugh said. “Our hearts are broken and I think that many of us, from the administrators down to the students, were raw because of that. But the kids are resilient and they responded well.”

“Regardless if there was shots fired, it was real; we had teachers traumatized and we had kids traumatized by this,” McNannay said. He said he takes every school threat seriously, but the fatal shooting at Freeman High School heightened his department’s response.

“What we do is often driven by what the public expects and it’s such a raw feeling in the Northwest right now. When someone makes a comment like this one week after an incident within 50 miles of us, we do act much more quickly. … Of course this one, with the recent shooting, it adds some seriousness.”

McNannay said his department is fortunate to have two officers on duty at once, but his officers will increase their presence in the schools following the threat. He said he’s considered bringing in a school resource officer in the past, but the department’s small budget couldn’t support it.

Pugh said he spoke to each grade level at Colfax Junior-Senior High School about repercussions from posting on social media.

“What we tell everybody: What you put on social media will be out there forever and we are all accountable for what we do on social media,” he said.

McNannay agreed.

“It’s reckless use of social media,” he said. “Everyone thinks they have freedom of speech anymore. There’s also consequences that come along with that. … The reason they are kids is because they don’t see the consequences of what’s coming down the road – when you post it, it’s permanent, even if you delete it.

”This kid may not have meant anything by it, but unfortunately it hit the wrong nerves with many people; in this day and age, you can’t take that chance. It’s sad he didn’t have any more insight than that.“

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