By Andrew Binion / Kitsap Sun
PORT ORCHARD — On Tuesday police arrested a South Kitsap High School student on suspicion of sending a threatening photo and statement via cellphone to other students, resulting in the school going on lockdown during the morning.
It was the third time the school has gone on lockdown in about three weeks due to possible threats and the same day in which two students were reportedly shot at Graham-Kapowsin High School in Pierce County.
Port Orchard Police Chief Geoffrey Marti said the student, a sophomore, was involved with a group of students working on a safety project for the school, developing a public safety message akin to “see something, say something.” The student then allegedly went to a common area and used his phone to transmit a photo of a rifle and other items and a threatening message to the phones of other students nearby. He did so using a function on iPhones called “AirDrop.”
A statement from the district included the photo, which Superintendent Karst Brandsma said had been copied from the internet. The photo shows an AR-15 type rifle, a backpack and the text, “Don’t come to school Tuesday.”
Those students reported the possible threats to school administrators and the school resource officer, who initiated the lockdown and began investigating.
The student was arrested for investigation of harassment after confessing to police, Marti said.
“We think there was criminal intent here,” Marti said. “This isn’t an accident, this is something he did on purpose and is criminal in nature.”
Marti acknowledged the irony in the case as well as noted the frequency that threats are being reported at the school. He also said that investigators have a strong record of solving such cases and are continuing to investigate.
“What started out as a project to make things safer, apparently one of the students involved took it to a different level,” Marti said, who also added: “Eventually people will realize there are repercussions for their actions and accountability.”
The school previously went on lockdown on Nov. 16 and Nov. 27.
In addition to possible criminal charges, Brandsma wrote that the student could be subject to school discipline.
“I want to acknowledge the frustration that parents, students and staff have expressed over the number of times the high school has been negatively impacted by various threats,” Brandsma wrote. “Advancements in technology and social media have changed the complexity of dealing with real and perceived threats.”