SPRINGFIELD, Ore. — An Oregon charter school principal who tried to buy a gun, causing a lockdown at the school, before later hanging himself was being investigated for sexual misconduct allegations involving a minor, according to police.
Michael Fisher was placed on leave from the Academy of Arts and Academics in Springfield on Wednesday morning and the lockdown occurred shortly after, the Register-Guard reported. Springfield Police Lt. Scott McKee said Friday the lockdown was a result of Fisher attempting to buy a gun at a nearby pawnshop.
“As fate would have it, a former student happened to be working in the pawnshop,” McKee said.
The former student knew Fisher to be an outspoken anti-gun advocate, authorities said. Fisher was a teacher at another Springfield high school in May 1998, when a student shot two classmates to death and injured 24 others. As theater director at Thurston High School, Fisher later directed a play inspired by the shooting.
The former student at the pawn shop then texted a former classmate, McKee said, who knew Fisher had just been placed on leave. That person, in turn, contacted school staff who put the school in lockdown.
Investigators say Fisher left the pawnshop and purchased a firearm at a nearby gun dealer. Officers then went to Fisher’s home and spoke with him. He told them he had purchased the gun for self-protection.
“Our officers told him they were concerned he may have purchased the gun to hurt himself,” McKee said. “He said he had not, but he agreed to hand it over. We took his gun for safekeeping.”
Fisher was found dead the next day by his wife in the garage of their Springfield home. It is being investigated as a suicide.
“Now we know he had a theater background,” McKee said. “But he represented (himself) in no way that would lead us to believe he was suicidal. He was very convincing.”
Fisher had been the school’s principal since 2005. The allegations against him were made recently when the female victim, who is now an adult and lives out of state, decided to come forward.
Authorities say the investigation into the sexual misconduct allegations will continue.
“Not only do we have a mandatory (abuse) reporting obligation as public officials,” McKee said, “we also feel a moral obligation to do our best to identify anyone who was impacted by this behavior.”