Bend Police have arrested a 16-year-old boy who was believed to be planning a shooting at Bend High School.
Zachariah James Mello Johnson, who police say is a student at Marshall High School, made statements on a social media platform about wanting to shoot several unspecified students, according to police. In an email to parents Thursday evening, Bend-La Pine Schools Superintendent Shay Mikalson also said the teenager was planning a shooting.
“We can now report that a youth is in custody for making credible threats against our schools,” Mikalson wrote in his email. “The police say that a 16-year-old male was planning a shooting at Bend Senior High School. This is the fourth threat we, in partnership with Bend Police, have investigated against our schools in the past nine days, but the only report deemed credible.”
Mikalson went on to write: “To say that I am concerned and deeply troubled by this youth’s behavior would be an incredible understatement.”
The Bulletin does not normally identify juvenile crime suspects unless they are charged with serious felonies.
However, given the seriousness of the allegations, and the public release of the suspect’s name by Bend Police and Bend-La Pine Schools, The Bulletin identified the suspect.
Bend Police learned of the threats Wednesday afternoon and visited Johnson’s southeast Bend home that night.
Officers found guns there but Johnson did not have access to them, said Bend Police Lt. Clint Burleigh.
“The last two days have just been unbelievable,” Burleigh said.
Officers arrested Johnson and took him to St. Charles Bend for a mental health evaluation.
He’s since been booked at the Deschutes County Juvenile Department on a disorderly conduct charge, and Mikalson said the school expects him to remain there until his arraignment March 1.
Police determined three other threats — a Summit High School scare sparked by bathroom graffiti, a Bend High School report of two students talking about school attacks, and verbal threats of gun violence from a High Desert Middle School student — were not considered credible, but they did prompt increased police presence at the high schools, and the middle school student was cited for disorderly conduct.
The Deschutes County Sheriff’s Office also investigated a national hoax Wednesday about a planned shooting at a school identified as “SHS,” which Deschutes County residents feared could be Summit or Sisters high schools.
Burleigh said the increase in reported threats appears tied to the Feb. 14 shooting at a Parkland, Florida, high school that has continued to receive national attention because it spurred students nationwide to speak out about gun control.
“I do think these increases have everything to do with what’s been going on nationally in the past week,” he said.
Police are asking anyone with information about the threats to call 541-693-6911.
— Reporter: 541-633-2160; firstname.lastname@example.org