The investigation continues, as similar — but indirectly related — threats were made the Enumclaw Middle School.
Update: This story has been updated March 18 at 6:45 p.m. with new information concerning the suspect’s court appearance, bail, and possible penalties; this story will be continue to be updated as more information becomes available.
A 16 year-old female Enumclaw High student has been arrested on charges of making a bomb threat last month.
On Feb. 13, the Instagram user “ehsvdayshooting” posted that “On Monday February 14th there will be a Valentine’s day shooting/bombing at EHS. 3 freshman are going full on armed with guns to shoot up the school at 10:20 am… 2 sophomores will be taking highly dangerous bombs to set off at 10:30 am… Come to school at your own risk… HAPPY VALENTINE’S DAY B*****S”.
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The post promoted EHS to close on Feb. 14. Similar threats against Enumclaw Middle School were made on Instagram Feb. 14, prompting EMS and Thunder Mountain Middle School to go into modified lockdown.
The arrest of the girl, a junior, was announced in a March 17 Enumclaw Police Department press release; the suspect was not named, as she is a minor.
EPD’s Commander Mike Graddon said in a recent interview that after securing several search warrants, the department was able to determine the IP address of the device that was used to post the bomb threat, which led them to the suspect.
“This crime is a class B felony, and if tried as an adult faces ten years in prison and a possible twenty thousand dollar fine,” the release reads, adding that no bombs or weapons were found. “It is still unclear at this time why she made the threats.”
It appears clear, though, that the girl will not be charged as an adult.
“The only offenses for which a juvenile can be tried in adult court are serious violent offenses against persons,” said King County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office spokesperson Douglas Wagoner. “Given the girl’s age and that she is not alleged to have committed a serious violent offense, there is no legal avenue to pursue adult prosecution.”
In a later email, Wagoner emphasized that this is not a King County policy, but a state policy.
As the suspect is presumed to be tried as a juvenile, the potential repercussions for her actions are vastly different than if she was convicted as an adult.
“If convicted, statewide sentencing guidelines outline that the juvenile in this case could face 0-30 days of detention and up to 0-12 months of supervised probation,” Wagoner said, adding that these penalties are set by lawmakers, not the PAO.
After appearing at her first court appearance March 18, the suspect has been released on her personal recognizance.
“After speaking with the parents, we felt confident that the youth, who does not have any criminal history and did not commit any additional crimes between the time of the incident and the time of her arrest, does not present a danger to the community and is not a risk of failing to appear for a future court date,” Wagoner said. “Those are the factors we have to consider when asking for bail; accordingly she was released on her personal recognizance to her parents.”
However, not being detained doesn’t mean the suspect has free rein — Wagoner added that her release stipulates the suspect cannot have unwanted contact with the school district, is not to be left unsupervised at home until she is enrolled back in school, and she’s not allowed to have unsupervised internet access.
It’s unclear at this time how long she may be suspended from Enumclaw High, or if she needs to enroll in another district.
The deadline for making a charging decision is March 22. Although she has not been charged yet, and thus hasn’t entered a plea, the EPD has noted that “it is not a defense to any prosecution under this law of Making a Bomb Threat that the threatened bombing or injury was a hoax.”
While one person has been arrested, Graddon said the investigation continues, specifically into who made threats against EMS.
“We remain incredibly grateful for our strong partnership with the Enumclaw Police Department and other local agencies during these investigations. We are also grateful to students and parents who reported the original threat to the high school immediately through our Vector Reporting System,” Enumclaw School District PIO Jessica McCartney wrote in an email response for comment. “These reports are evidence that students and families care deeply about fostering a safe learning environment for all students and staff at our schools.”
In general, Graddon urged parents and guardians to have conversations with children about appropriate social media usage.
“Social media has got so many benefits, and it connects so many people in so many ways, but there’ also a downside,” he said. “And that downside is, people send images they might regret — we investigate those types of cases quite a bit — or they make comments that might be racial slurs, something they may think is a joke; we just want parents… to continue this conversation with our youth to keep them out of trouble. They may think it’s innocent, but ultimately, there can be victims, and in this particular case, it was extremely devastating and distracting to our community, to say the least. It put a lot of people in great fear.”
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