SALEM, Ore. – A person threatening to attack a school could be charged with a felony and not just a misdemeanor in Oregon under an amendment introduced Monday amid a spate of threats in the wake of the Feb. 14 Florida high school shooting.
Sen. Tim Knopp, a Republican, represents the central Oregon town of Bend where a threat last week resulted in the arrest of a 16-year-old for disorderly conduct.
Knopp said Oregon’s district attorneys are constrained by current law that only allows misdemeanor charges such as menacing, disorderly conduct, and harassment in such cases.
“Creating a new statute to address these circumstances will go a long way in deterring future threats and punishing individuals threaten the well-being of our kids, families, and communities,” Knopp said in a statement
The amendment is similar to existing laws in other states criminalizing making a threat to commit a crime that will result in great bodily harm, regardless of whether the person intended to carry out the threat, Knopp’s office said.
The amendment is supported by Deschutes County District Attorney John Hummel, Bend Police Chief Jim Porter, and the Bend-La Pine School District, according to Knopp.
School Superintendent Shay Mikalson said last week the school district and Bend police investigated four threats of school violence in nine days, and that the one for which the youth was arrested was the only one deemed credible. Threats were also made in other towns, including in Gervais on Friday that resulted in a school being locked down and a juvenile arrested.
Bend police said the threats there were to shoot several unspecified students at Bend Senior High School. Investigating officers went to the suspect’s home Wednesday night, determined that he intended to harm students, and took him into custody, police said. Guns were found in the home but they weren’t accessible to the youth.
The youth was put into a Deschutes County juvenile detention facility on a charge of disorderly conduct.
A court appearance is scheduled for March 1.
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