A 12-year-old Bend boy was arrested Monday for making an online threat against students and staff at Cascade Middle School, according to police.
Bend Police and the FBI ultimately determined the threat to be non-credible, but 40 percent of the 800 students at the school stayed home.
Lt. Juli McConkey said police received information from Deschutes County 911 on Sunday at 8:57 a.m. that a local juvenile received an online threat while plaing XBOX.
“Bend Police, in partnership with the Federal Bureau of Investigation, worked through the night to investigate the origin of the threat,” McConkey said. “This morning, the FBI made contact with a family in Lane County, Oregon from whose residence the posts were made. Law enforcement was able to identify that the juvenile was in that area visiting family and used the device.
The FBI investigation led Bend Police to subsequently make contact with the boy in the Bend area. The boy admitted to ‘trolling’ using an XBOX gamertag to harass other players, McConkey said.
According to an email to parents from Cascade Principal Stephen DuVal on Sunday, “Bend Police say the youth was engaged in a chat on a home gaming system with a person only known by a gamertag. During the exchange, the gamer told the youth not to go to school on Monday.”
When the Cascade student asked why he shouldn’t attend school on Monday, the gamer replied, “bang.”
“According to those involved, the gamer later claimed to be making a joke,” DuVal said in his email.
The investigation found the boy had no means to carry out the threat and deemed it non-credible. But he was arrested Monday morning for first-degree disorderly conduct.
District officials say they hoped the principal’s message Sunday would alleviate some fear from students and parents, but they understand why some stayed home on Monday.
“I think it was one of the safest days you could be at school with law enforcement presence there,” said Julianne Repman, the district’s director of communications and safety. “We have law enforcement at our schools most every day of the year, but we definitely respect that right of parents to make a decision about when they want their students to be at school.”
Here’s more from DuVal’s email:
“It is our understanding that screenshots of the exchange have been circulating around student and parent social media accounts this afternoon. Many of our students may be talking about this by the time school begins tomorrow morning. I thought that a quick email to you tonight to share what I know would help you to answer any questions that your student(s) may have for you and to calm any fears that they may have regarding this situation and the ensuing rumors going around.
“Out of an abundance of caution, we will be taking steps to increase security and the safety of our students and staff through added police presence on and around our campus. We believe that our school is safe for all students and staff. We also understand that by informing you of this threat we run the risk of giving the person who made the threat the attention they seek or other students copying this behavior.”
Duval said he appreciated students and parents notifying staff about rumors they hear.
“The safety of our students and staff is paramount and any and all threats, credible or not, are taken as such.” he said.
This is third threat to a local school in the last week.
On September 18th, an Elton Gregory Middle School student in Redmond was detained after he was found on campus using a knife to carve into a bench and wall. The incident prompted a 15-minute lockdown at the school.
The next day, police converged at Bend High School while they investigated an online threat. The suspect, a 21-year-old man with no ties to the school, was arrested at his home that morning. Police seized a shotgun from his home during the arrest.