NORTH BEND — Schools in the North Bend School District sit empty this morning in the wake of yesterday’s school shooting threat.
“Nothing has changed since last night other than we are continuing to follow potential leads,” said Chief Robert Kappelman of the North Bend Police Department. “We literally have dozens of people to talk to.”
Once the responsible student is found, it’s unclear what consequences they will face. Kappelman said that the department will consult with juvenile prosecution to determine what charges will be appropriate depending on the situation. Likewise, the school district won’t know how to discipline the student until more is known.
However, Kappelman had a message for the student:
“If the person responsible heeds our message, now is the time to come forward,” he said. “Talk with us, work with us, put the community at ease. Certainly the same message goes forward to anyone who may know who the author of the graffiti is. Waiting doesn’t make the situation better.”
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 girls' restroom. 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. “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.”
The situation remains fluid, according to Kappelman this morning as he sent officers to add police presence at the North Bend High School just before sitting down with The World. Though school is closed, 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. “If the school district goes forward with any activities, we will provide police presence.”
Right now the department is chasing down its many leads in an attempt to narrow the timeframe of when the graffiti may have happened.
“We don’t have enough information to determine credibility, which is why we continue to work on this,” Kappelman said. “We have learned based on national trends that it is not a good decision to make assumptions about credibility without facts, so we’re in search of those facts right now.”
It is still undecided if the district will open for school tomorrow.
“That decision is up to the school district,” Kappelman said. “We will advise them of the status of our investigation periodically as things develop or don’t develop. We will maintain close communication and they will have to make a decision based on the facts we discover.”
If school does return to its normal schedule Thursday, Yester told The World that there would likely be additional police presence. Of course, it depends on what happens with the investigation today.
“Sadly this is the type of situation we now live in,” Kappelman said. “We as a police department will continue to investigate every potential threat as real until we discover otherwise. We will work with the school district to try to help them determine how they’ll handle not only this situation, but likely future ones.”
Kappelman reiterated last night’s NBPD press release that the “children of this community are our top priority.”
“We won’t rest until we have all the facts related to this,” he said. “We hope those facts will be uncovered soon.”
This story will be updated as it develops.