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Astoria teen held in school shooting plot

Daily Astorian

A 15-year-old Warrenton High School student is being called a hero for coming forward to Astoria High School officials with proof that a 16-year-old there was planning a school shooting.

Astoria Police were contacted at 1:30 p.m. Monday by Astoria High School administrators. A Facebook conversation had crossed a serious line between the AHS and WHS students.

The AHS student - who has not been named by officers because of the ongoing investigation - was attempting to lure his WHS friend into helping him shoot up the school.

Now, that AHS student is being held at the Youngs Bay Juvenile Detention facility, charged with solicitation to commit aggravated murder.

“Astoria High School has procedures in place in caring for the safety of our students and I feel very good about how those procedures were followed and how we were able to work simultaneously with police to protect the students,” said Astoria High School Principal Larry Lockett. “I’m highly appreciative of that Warrenton student and his sense of responsibility.”

Astoria Police contacted the Astoria High School student and his mother at their home Monday after receiving the initial report.

“The mother was very cooperative,” said Deputy Police Chief Brad Johnston. “She helped us to make contact with her son and allowed us to search the house.”

The officers were unable to locate weapons in the home, but through the investigation and interviews with the student, arrested him on the charge. According to District Attorney Josh Marquis, it’s possible the student could be tried as an adult. The District Attorney’s office is awaiting the police reports to determine whether the student will be treated as a juvenile or an adult.

Marquis said it is too early to determine that yet. As of press time, the student is still being treated as a juvenile, and he was not on the court dockets for this afternoon.

“Solicitation to commit a crime is not the same as doing the crime itself,” Marquis said, adding he did not believe the charge was covered under Measure 11, an initiative that sets a mandatory minimum sentence for serious crimes.

“It’s certainly troubling, but I know the police agencies are investigating how serious this threat was,” he said, noting it’s most important to see if the student made any preparations to commit the crime.

The investigation is still ongoing and although Johnston said they do not believe other students had been solicited, they are looking for and open to more information.

“It was really outstanding that the 15-year-old student saw how serious this was and was able to give the information to adults he trusted,” Johnston said. “Getting this information early really improves the situation for everybody.”

There was no school for AHS students Monday. However, staff members were on campus for an in-service day and students were scheduled to arrive later in the afternoon for athletic events.

Kenny Hansen, the Astoria High School resource officer, made the arrest.

Johnston commended the cooperation between the schools and the police department, as well as the resource officer who “sees the kids interacting everyday and had information that no one else would have” that helped the investigation.

Students were notified with an announcement today. Parents will be notified via email today and a memo will be sent home with students.

“We feel really good about how our safeguards went,” Lockett said. “We feel bad because for any school to be successful, all kids need to be connected. We have activity fairs to try to connect kids and opportunities to try to get kids involved, but unfortunately, we were not 100 percent successful.”

Lockett said he was surprised, but in high schools, threats are always a potential issue.

The positive thing is that everyone is safe, he said.

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