Milton-Freewater schools were closed Friday after a McLoughlin High School student allegedly told another student he planned to carry out a school shooting.
The student was arrested Friday for fourth degree assault and disorderly conduct.
According to a news release from Umatilla County Sheriff’s Office, deputies were investigating an assault complaint involving high school-aged males in the Milton-Freewater area Thursday night when a student reported the assault suspect had made a threat to shoot up the high school.
The sheriff’s office located the suspect and his guardians Friday morning. The student “denied that he made any threatening statements towards the school or anywhere else, and had no intention to shooting anyone.” He did not have access to firearms, but after interviewing the student and performing a threat assessment deputies determined there was enough evidence to arrest him for assault and disorderly conduct. He was lodged at a juvenile detention center in Walla Walla.
Superintendent Rob Clark said about 11:15 a.m. that law enforcement had notified him a few minutes earlier that the student was in custody. But when McLoughlin High School principal Mindi Vaughan called Clark early Friday morning to notify him of the situation, the student had not yet been located, prompting Clark to “err on the side of caution” and cancel all school for the district.
Clark said law enforcement emailed Vaughan on Thursday evening about 11 p.m. and she saw the email at 5 a.m. After conferring with law enforcement and Vaughan he made the decision to notify parents that school was being canceled across the district due to a “credible threat.” He said these types of situations are difficult for administrators, but safety of staff and students is the first priority.
“Do I like canceling school?” he said. “No, I don’t like canceling school. But it was the right decision.”
Now that the student is in custody, he said extracurricular activities will go on as planned.
In a news release, the district thanked Umatilla County Sheriff’s Office and Milton-Freewater Police Department for their actions.