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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Felony charges expected against student accused of threatening to shoot up Lewis and Clark High School

FILE - Spokane Police Officer Larry House stands sentry at the entrance of Lewis & Clark high School, Wed., May 30. 2018. There have been increasing security measures on campus in the wake of social media threats made on Tuesday. (Colin Mulvany / The Spokesman-Review)

Spokane police say charges will be forwarded to prosecutors in a school shooting threat that affected Lewis and Clark High School for several days.

The suspect in the dayslong case, a student at Lewis and Clark, was detained and interviewed Wednesday afternoon, police said. But rather than being arrested after admitting to posting threats online, he was checked into a hospital for treatment.

“On this one, we worked with the family to make sure he got the help he needed,” said Spokane Police Maj. Eric Olsen. “But we’re also addressing the criminal justice portion as well. We are making sure we are forwarding that on.”

Olsen said that a recommendation of charges would include felony harassment, and specifically, threats to bomb or injure property.

County Prosecutor Larry Haskell would make the determination whether to formally charge the suspect, which would in turn generate a warrant for arrest.

“When it comes over, we’ll look at it,” he said Thursday. “We still have to evaluate it.”

Olsen said in this case, police were able to determine that the initial threats, which were relayed to Spokane Public Schools officials Tuesday morning, were not credible. That theory was further reinforced Wednesday when Olsen said detectives “verified that he did not have the means to carry out the threat.”

“Regardless, we take them seriously,” he said. “These go to Major Crimes. They’re handled on a very serious level.”

Police Chief Craig Meidl, addressing a group of reporters Thursday morning, said the investigation included looking at a “ghost IP address.”

The threats originated from an Instagram account by the name of @steven_smith_4, which indicated there was a “special date planned for LCHS before the end of the school” on the account’s biography section.

“Be ready,” it reads. “I’m [sorry] ahead of time for those who will not be alive the next day.”

Several female high school students also reported receiving messages from the account, leading them to believe the suspect was a fellow student.

Despite the source of the threat being identified by police, many high school students elected to stay home again Thursday – a day after more than half of the school’s student body was absent when almost 1,000 students did not go to school.

Kevin Morrison, spokesman for Spokane Public Schools, said 348 students – or about 20 percent of the school’s roughly 1,700 students – were absent Thursday morning. Morrison said it’s typical for a high school to see an absence rate of about 7 to 10 percent on any given day.