The investigation continues into Tuesday’s assault at Pilot Rock High School.
Pilot Rock Schools Superintendent Steve Staniak admitted he should have done more to tell police about the confrontation between a 15-year-old boy and 18-year-old Justin James Smith.
The juvenile ended up in critical condition at a Portland hospital, and Smith ended up in the Umatilla County Jail, Pendleton.
Staniak during a phone interview Thursday morning said school employees knew of the assault when it happened around 2:30 p.m. Tuesday, and the first steps were to separate the students and make sure they were safe. The school arranged for a ride to take the 15-year-old home and the older student walked off campus.
After that, Staniak said he called a Pilot Rock police officer about the incident, and that officer directed him to report the assault to dispatch. Staniak nor anyone else with the school made that call.
“In hindsight,” Staniak said, “I should have done that.”
Staniak said the injuries from the fight did not appear serious, and he figured he could follow up with police Wednesday morning.
Pilot Rock Police Chief Bill Caldera said a resident on Tuesday around 3 p.m. asked if he was aware of the fight at the high school involving two students. Caldera said he answered, “No,” but the report kicked off the ensuing police investigation and resulted in Smith’s arrest for second-degree assault, a class B felony.
Police found out the two students first had a dust-up Sunday at the Pendleton Walmart, according to Caldera, that led up to the clash at the school. The juvenile suffered serious injuries, and a family member took the boy to St. Anthony Hospital, Pendleton. From there, an emergency aircraft flew him to Oregon Health & Science University, Portland.
He was in critical condition Tuesday, and Caldera said he learned Wednesday afternoon the boy regained consciousness.
The East Oregonian tried to contact the family but has yet to hear back.
The Pilot Rock Police Department’s daily bulletin shows a caller Tuesday at 4:43 p.m. also reported an assault at the high school. Caldera said that call was about the same incident and came from someone who knows one of the two teens.
Caldera also said his department was busy continuing the investigation and conducted perhaps 20 or more interviews Wednesday at the high school.
“We’ve been interviewing kid after kid after kid after kid,” he said. “We’re right in the middle of it.”
The Umatilla County District Attorney’s Office on Wednesday arraigned Smith on the assault charge. State court records show Circuit Judge Christopher Brauer set bail at $50,000 and a probable cause hearing in the case for Wednesday, May 15.
The district attorney’s office, Pendleton Police Department and the OHSU Department of Public Safety assisted in the investigation. Caldera also encouraged anyone with information for the investigation to call the county’s dispatch center at 541-966-3651 or the Pilot Rock Police Department 541-443-1224.