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School Threat

Rain falls in an empty parking lot Wednesday outside of North Bend Middle School. Officials canceled classes at the school and adjacent high school after a student found threatening graffiti scrawled in a bathroom at the middle school Tuesday. A 12-year-old student confessed to the leaving the message while being interviewed by police.

NORTH BEND — The student who threatened the North Bend School District with a school shooting has been found.

School Threat

Birds use feeders outside a dark and empty classroom at North Bend High School on Wednesday afternoon. Officials canceled classes at the school and the adjacent middle school after a student found threatening a threatening message scrawled in a bathroom in the building. A 12-year-old student confessed Wednesday to the writing the message while being interviewed by police.

According to a press release late Wednesday afternoon from the North Bend Police Department, the investigation led authorities to a 12-year-old girl who is a student at the middle school. Her name is being withheld because she is a minor. She was discovered through witness statements, surveillance video from the school hallway, handwriting comparison, and interviews.

"This afternoon, that girl was interviewed in the presence of her parent and confessed to writing the message on the bathroom stall wall," the release read.

NBPD is working with the Coos County District Attorney, alongside mental health counselors, to determine the most appropriate course of action to address what she did.

"The student has no access to weapons and her parents are cooperative in this process," the release said. "The student has reported that the threat was not credible, however, we are examining thoroughly to assure that is factual."

The North Bend School District returned to normal schedule for all schools Thursday morning.

"While NBPD has no indication that any other threat exists, we will continue to maintain an increased presence at our schools," the release said. "We know these situations cause uneasiness in our community and want you to know that we are committed to you and your children's safety."

The release thanked School Resource Officer Jason Griggs and detectives Buddy Young and Ryan Doyle who solved the case within 24 hours of it being reported.

The timeline

Tuesday 9 a.m. - According to the NBPD press release from last night, a student attending North Bend Middle School noticed graffiti on a bathroom stall in the sixth grade girl’s restroom on Tuesday morning. The graffiti read that there would be a 'shooting up the school' on Wednesday.

The student notified a substitute teacher, who went on to report it to the school administration.

3:25 p.m. – NBPD was notified and began their investigation.

8 p.m. – The school district sent out a notice to parents about the threat.

10:44 p.m. – The district announced that all school would be closed on Wednesday.

“Between the time we sent out the first notice to parents and deciding to close school, we were in touch with the police and our School Resource Officer who was investigating,” said Bill Yester, district superintendent in an interview on Wednesday morning. “Chief Kappelman said at that point last night they hadn’t gotten any further in the investigation, so that’s when we decided to send the second release.”

Wednesday morning showed a fluid situation as Kappelman sent officers to add police presence at the North Bend High School just before sitting down with The World. Though school was closed that day, staff and administration members are sending off the band, whose students are boarding a bus to attend a competition.

“For the sendoff this morning, there will be police there,” Kappelman assured on Wednesday. “If the school district goes forward with any activities, we will provide police presence.”

He added that as a police department, they will continue to investigate every potential threat as real until determined otherwise.

“Sadly this is the type of situation we now live in,” he said.

Copycat threats

As the NBPD investigation led authorities to the girl who wrote “shooting up the school tomorrow . . . BE READY!!” on a bathroom stall, the Coquille School District found similar graffiti on their junior high campus.

“Just after junior high lunch, around 1 p.m., some students found writing in the junior high bathroom,” said Tim Sweeney, district superintendent. “Fortunately they reported it immediately to the principal and we looked at the cameras.”

Because no one had reported the graffiti before lunch, the administration had a narrow timeframe of footage to review.

“When we thought we found who did it, we got handwriting samples from his English teacher, matched it up quickly and called the police and his parents,” Sweeney said. “We had the culprit in hand within the hour.”

At no point did Sweeney feel that there was a safety threat, but rather someone looking for a day off. He did ask the Coquille Police Department to arrest the unnamed student, but it is being treated as a misdemeanor and “his parents were spoken to, so we’re going to look at it further to decide what our plan is from here.”

Sweeney mentioned that he has heard talk of legislation of making it a felony for people who issue threats against schools, but in the meantime “it isn’t right now.”

When Sweeney spoke with The World earlier Wednesday before the copycat threat was made, he had sent emails to district staff to be on the lookout for anything strange, especially with what was happening in North Bend.

“It’s just really sad,” he had said. “Unfortunately . . . our kids are thinking about this. It’s impacted students across the nation. One student even asked our high school principal for a copy of his ALICE training power point so they could review it.”

ALICE training helps prepare students and teachers on how to protect themselves during an active shooter situation, either by barricading doors, fighting back, or escaping.

However, the copycat threat wasn’t just seen in the Coquille School District but in the Coos Bay School District as well.

According to a press release from the Coos Bay Police Department late Wednesday afternoon, the school resource officer and district administration were made aware of graffiti in a school bathroom at around 11:45 a.m.

“The graffiti was found to contain a similar message to what was written in the bathroom at North Bend Middle School the previous day,” the release read.

Once made aware, the SRO and school administration began investigating by reviewing surveillance video. By doing so, they were able to identify the suspect and question them about the graffiti.

“The juvenile student confessed to writing the message on the bathroom stall,” the release said. “The student stated the message was only a hoax and that there was no intention of ever carrying out the threat.”

The unidentified student was taken into custody and charged with disorderly conduct in the first degree and transported to Juvenile Detention.

“Five threats in one year”

 Coincidentally, the same day that the North Bend School District found the graffiti threat in the girl’s bathroom, so did the Roseburg School District in one of their high school girl’s bathrooms.

“The person was found within an hour and a half after finding the writing,” said Gerry Washburn, Roseburg School District superintendent. “It was reported around 11 a.m. on Tuesday and unfortunately it’s becoming all too common that we’re getting these things.

“We’ve had five threats in the high school and middle school just this year.”

Because the district has seen this happen so often, there are measures in place to help teachers and administration act quickly to work with law enforcement. In this case on Tuesday, the Roseburg Police Department arrested the student. Police Chief Jim Burge emailed The World that the student is being charged with disorderly conduct 1 and criminal mischief 2.

Washburn pointed out that often people forget that April is home to many shootings. In fact, it was April of 1999 when the Columbine school shooting took place, April of 1995 when the Oklahoma City bombing happened, and April of 2007 when the Virginia Tech shooting occurred.

“So kids preoccupied with this or spend a lot of time on websites tend to focus on that month and so I think we’re seeing a lot of that right now,” he said.

In addition to that, he pointed out that there has been 84 school shooting threats made in Oregon so far this year. He clarified that the vast majority have come in after the recent Parkland school shooting.

Of the threats that the Roseburg School District has seen, most have been kids lashing out or trying to get attention.

“We’ve not had a kid to date that has been identified as a credible threat, so it’s just something that kids are doing right now,” he said. “We’re trying to educate them on the serious consequences involved with doing it. We’re getting better and better with responding and investigating it, as I’m sure is true across the state.

“It’s the world we live in now.”

Reporter Jillian Ward can be reached at 541-269-1222, ext. 235, or by email at Follow her on Twitter: @JE_Wardwriter.