BEND, OR -- Police believe they've prevented a local school shooting, this week. A 16-year-old Bend High student is in custody, after investigators say he made threats against his school on social media.
Bend Police were notified Wednesday afternoon that Zachariah Johnson posted threats to shoot several unspecified students. They contacted him at his southeast Bend home that night and say he had means to follow through on the threat, although those means were not accessible to him. Johnson underwent a mental evaluation at St. Charles before he was taken to juvenile jail.
Investigators ask anyone with information on this specific case to come forward as they continue to look into the matter. Bend Police say they've investigated four school threats over the last nine days and this is the first deemed credible. They say this incident does not appear related to a threat involving Bend High investigated earlier in the week.
Bend-La Pine Schools Superintendent Shay Mikalson issued a statement Thursday night expressing gratitude to police for their quick action, and reminding students and parents of how the district promotes safety. His statement, in part:
My heart has been heavy over the last week, as I have reflected on the latest school tragedy and all those that have come before. My thoughts have been with our students, our staff, our families, and our community as we work to ensure the safety and well-being of Bend-La Pine Schools' students and staff.
With that said, I must inform you that the Bend Police Department has just released publicly information about an investigation we have been working on together throughout the night. We can now report that a youth is in custody for making a credible threat against our schools. 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.
This threat was reported to Bend Police late last night, who investigated and lodged the youth in juvenile jail before sunrise today. We are told he will remain there at least until arraignment on March 1. To say that I am concerned and deeply troubled by this youth’s alleged behavior would be an incredible understatement. However, I am incredibly grateful for the efforts of Bend-La Pine Schools’ staff, our proactive safety measures, Bend Police, and most for our culture of safety that emphasizes to all, “When you see something, say something.”
I believe that all students and staff in our nation’s schools deserve to stay safe while learning and teaching.
Bend-La Pine Schools addresses school safety through a comprehensive approach focusing on planning, prevention, intervention, and response. We have systems and programs to help ensure caring learning communities where students and staff feel safe and supported. The district also understands the importance of training and practicing emergency protocols with students and staff, using drills to prepare them to respond safely in a variety of emergency situations.