Teen arrested in Battle Ground 9/11 threat

Lt. Ray Butler of the Battle Ground Police Department, Sept. 11, 2013 (KOIN 6 News)
Lt. Roy Butler of the Battle Ground Police Department, Sept. 11, 2013 (KOIN 6 News)

BATTLE GROUND, Wash. (KOIN) –A Battle Ground 13-year-old was arrested in connection with the threats that prompted the closure of six schools in the district Wednesday.

The teenage student from Chief Umtuch Middle School was arrested “for making threats” after a 3:30 p.m. interview with Battle Ground detectives. Police told KOIN 6 News that, as far as they know, the teen has no previous criminal record.

Chief Umtuch Middle School in Battle Ground, Washington, Sept. 11, 2013 (KOIN 6 News)
Chief Umtuch Middle School in Battle Ground, Washington, Sept. 11, 2013 (KOIN 6 News)

Battle Ground School District officials closed five schools Wednesday for what was termed a series of “creditable threats.” A nearby Christian school also was closed.

According to the district, the threats were directed to students and staff at Chief Umtuch Middle School Tuesday. Battle Ground police made the arrest after receiving information from the FBI and the Vancouver Police Department.

Police from both Battle Ground and Vancouver, along with the FBI, followed the leads that led to the teen. His computer was seized.

At a news conference late Wednesday afternoon, Lt. Roy Butler of BGPD said the teen “did not possess the means to carry out any of the threats that were made.” He also said no other suspects are involved.

The teen has been released to the custody of his parents, who reportedly were cooperative with investigating detectives. The case file will be forwarded to the Clark County Juvenile Prosecutor, with the potential for charges of Felony Harassment.

District spokesperson Gregg Herrington told KOIN 6 News the middle school principal and teachers became aware of a suicide threat on Tuesday and enacted the programs the school has in place. But during a curriculum night at the school, a series of written threats were found related to the student suicide threat.

Police said the teen followed the suicide threat with threats against a teacher at the school and the school itself. They said the student threatened to use explosives on Sept. 11. However, they report the teen did not have the means to carry through on the threats.

“There is no evidence at this time that any other suspects were involved,” said Lt. Ray Butler of the Battle Ground Police Department in a 4:30 p.m. news conference. “…I’m not going to speculate [about the arrested teen’s] intention, but it was not a joke.”

Butler said, as far as Battle Ground detectives are concerned, Wednesday’s arrest “will close the matter.”

In a letter sent to parents Wednesday, the school district reported “The decision to close school on Wednesday was an extremely difficult one. It was made with thorough deliberation and collaboration among school principals, district officials, and the Battle Ground Police Department. We did not want to overreact, but, at the same time, we did not want to jeopardize in any way the safety of our kids. We believe closing school was the right thing to do and would make the same decision again given the same information.”

All Battle Ground schools are expected to be open Thursday as usual.

— KOIN Reporter Jessica Morkert contributed information to this report from Battle Ground, Wash.

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