NEWBERG, Ore. (KPTV) — A 17-year-old suspect is accused of attempting to obtain a gun as part of a plan to “harm” students and staff at Newberg High School. Police described it as a “potential tragedy.”
On Tuesday, some students described the suspect as a troublemaker, while others were shocked by the allegations.
“I used to live near him in elementary school and we used to hang out,” said classmate Carter May. “He doesn’t seem like he’d do that.”
The Newberg-Dundee Police Department was informed of a threat of violence against people at the school on March 3.
Counselors contacted police after receiving information from concerned students.
Police and school administrators worked through the night to avert the threat and ensure the high school was safe.
During the initial investigation, it was discovered that two students had committed probation violations, according to police. Detainers were issued and they were taken into custody that night.
The subsequent investigation included interviews with around 30 students, teachers and counselors. On Tuesday, police said one of the students is now being charged in this case with two counts of first-degree attempted assault and attempted unlawful use of a weapon.
He was arraigned in juvenile court Monday.
Investigators said the student took “substantial steps” to obtain a firearm and compiled a list of supplies to accomplish his plan.
Police said the suspect intended to “obtain weapons to harm students and faculty at the Newberg High School campus.” Some of the students were named on a list and some were not, according to investigators.
Based on interviews, detectives said it was learned the teen’s plan was to be carried out within approximately 70 days.
Police said officers and Newberg School District administrators worked together to “avoid this potential tragedy.”
“We were going to have an assembly and they canceled it because of the threat,” said student Genesis Ulloa. “They didn’t want anything to happen just in case.”
Some students debated whether or not the threat was real. Others said they just hope people will come forward again if another similar situation arises.
“If someone was going to do something like that again, I feel like they should speak up,” said student Bryana Ulloa. “Not just to protect themselves, but also everyone else in the school.”
The Newberg-Dundee police department released a statement Tuesday saying, “This is a good reminder for students that if they see or hear of something that could affect the safety of others, make sure and report it to a teacher, counselor, or a police officer.”
Investigators said there is no indication the second student detained as part of the initial investigation was involved in the plot.
The Newberg School District released a statement Tuesday about the ongoing investigation:
Newberg-Dundee police did assure school administrators that students and staff would be safe when school opened March 4th. At that time two juveniles were in custody and police increased their presence in and around campus.
Since that time, classes and activities have resumed as usual. Counselors have been available to students and the school has continued to communicate with parents and staff as they were able, including the fact that the students in custody would not be returning to campus.
Newberg High School continues to follow the policies and procedures in place to keep school safe. Safety plans and practices are in place. The school and police department have a strong partnership that ensures safety.
School safety is one of our highest priorities and most important responsibilities. School staffs continue to assess and look for ways to increase and improve safety at all Newberg schools.