Ontario High School sophomore to be appear in court to face charge in threat

An Ontario High School student will appear in Malheur County Juvenile Court Thursday in connection to an threat of violence discovered on Thursday, March 1. (The Enterprise/Pat Caldwell)

ONTARIO – A 15-year-old Ontario High School student will be arraigned in Malheur County Juvenile Court Thursday at 9 a.m. on a charge of disorderly conduct in connection with a report he planned a violent act at the school last week.

Police and school officials said the sophomore was overheard making threats against other students and a notebook found in the student’s backpack contained a threat to blow up the school.

Cal Kunz, Ontario police chief, said a school resource officer investigated after another student tipped school authorities. The officer identified the student, who was asked to empty his pockets and whose backpack was searched. Police contacted the student’s parents and searched the family home. They found no evidence the teen had any weapons or explosives.

“Once the investigation was done, we notified any parent of individual students who needed information and we sent a call out to all high school parents and sent a call out to all the high school students we had a number on record for and sent a call out to our teachers. We also emailed teachers early on to let them know everything was OK,” said Ontario High School Principal Jodi Elizondo.

Nicole Albisu, Ontario school district superintendent, said the young man will not return to school any time soon.

“Policy states he will remain suspended until a mental health evaluation is completed, forwarded to the district and then a meeting with the boy’s parents will occur before a decision is made,” said Albisu.

Albisu stressed at no time were students or staff in danger and parents were notified of the incident by the district’s Facebook page.

“Our goal was to get the information out as soon as possible and ensure the safety of all involved,” Albisu said. “We tried to communicate the information early, but people must understand we are limited on what information we can give out as juveniles are involved.”

Students returned to school on Friday without incident.

“These are scary situations and you always see an uptick in this after the media has reported on a mass shooting in my experience,” said Dave Goldthorpe, Malheur County district attorney.

Goldthorpe said that Oregon law doesn’t have a crime that fits a situation where a student makes a verbal threat but does not possess a firearm or explosives.