A 15-year-old male Pendleton High School student was taken into custody Friday after he made shooting threats against schools, according to Pendleton Police Chief Stuart Roberts.
Roberts said the juvenile verbally told a person he thought it would be “funny” if he shot up a school. Another person heard this story secondhand and reported it to police Friday evening.
They started speaking with the 15-year-old boy that same night, who made statements “above and beyond” what was originally reported to police. Police also discovered that the juvenile did not have a gun in his possession, but there was a gun at his residence.
Over the course of the investigation, police found that the teenager only referenced a generic school and never threatened a specific educational facility in Pendleton.
Police sent the student to St. Anthony Hospital, Pendleton, for a mental evaluation that determined the boy was a threat to himself and others.
Roberts said police placed a mental health hold on the student, allowing authorities to keep him in custody. If there were no beds available at a mental health facility, Roberts said police were prepared to arrest him for disorderly conduct and send him to a juvenile detention center in Walla Walla.
Roberts said he was scheduled to be transported on Tuesday to a mental health facility outside the area for further treatment.
Pendleton High School Principal Dan Greenough said he was in contact with police as the situation unfolded as a precautionary measure, but the school otherwise played no role in the investigation.
With the recent shooting at a Florida high school that killed 17 people, Greenough said safety is at the forefront of people’s minds, but the local students and staff were calm this week.
While the action took place off-campus, Greenough said high school staff are open to any safety concerns from students and the school promotes the Oregon State Police student tipline.
There have been other security threats that have concerned local schools in recent years, but nothing as specific as a mass shooting.
In 2012, Sunridge Middle School was shut down for a day when school staff received an anonymous message that said, “Don’t have school on Monday.” When authorities investigated, it turned out to be a collaborative prank call between a local boy and a student from Illinois.
Last September, Pendleton High School was put on a lockout after police received a report that a teen was threatening to shoot a student on the Pendleton River Parkway. Police located the offending teen, found no gun and were told the problem had been worked out. The lockout was lifted after 21 minutes and no one was charged for the incident.