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UPDATED: Puyallup police arrest junior high student in ‘Columbine’-like plot

Post by Stacey Mulick / The News Tribune on Nov. 18, 2011 at 8:24 am |
November 18, 2011 2:21 pm

UPDATED at 2:20 p.m.

Puyallup police arrested one student and interviewed seven others Thursday after learning of a plot to shoot up Aylen Junior High School.

The 14-year-old boy was booked into Remann Hall juvenile jail late Thursday on suspicion of conspiracy to commit first-degree assault.

He made a brief court appearance Friday afternoon but was not charged. The boy was ordered held in jail until his arraignment Tuesday afternoon.

The boy’s parents asked that he be allowed to go home but the state argued otherwise.

“After Columbine the world changed and none of us has a crystal ball,” deputy prosecutor Fred Wist said after the hearing.

Meanwhile, Puyallup police have stepped up their presence around Aylen, 101 15th St. S.W., today.

Investigators believe the teen threatened violence at the school and was recruiting classmates to help with his plan, Puyallup police Capt. Scott Engle said. He had contacted six boys and a girl.

The boy did not have access to guns and hadn’t made a list of potential targets. He also hadn’t picked a specific date to carry out the plan, Engle said.

“We feel confident that the early intervention in this case has provided a safe and successful conclusion,” Engle said.

Investigators were looking into what may have motivated the boy.

“Hopefully, we will have some good, solid answers to that in the coming days,” Engle said. “We need to get to the bottom of why.”

The plan came to light Thursday afternoon when one of the teen’s classmates talked to a campus safety officer.

The boy reported that he’d been approached by the 14-year-old on Wednesday afternoon and asked if he wanted to take part in a Columbine-style attack, Engle said.

The Puyallup Police Department’s school liaison officer was contacted. The officer then notified detectives.

Investigators learned the 14-year-old boy had not been at school Thursday and contacted him and his family at their Puyallup home.

“After determining that the suspect had contacted numerous other students in a recruiting effort to join in on the ‘Columbine’ plan, the suspect was taken into custody and potential evidence was seized,” Puyallup police reported.

Detectives also took evidence from the house that will be processed as part of the investigation.

Investigators interviewed the boy and the seven other students he reportedly approached with his plan. Engle said all were cooperating.

No other arrests have been made so far. However, Engle noted that investigators consider two other students suspects and have forwarded their investigation to Pierce County prosecutors for review.

The Puyallup School District was following up with administrative action.

Engle reminded students that if they hear something or see something amiss, they should report it.

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