Police arrest student after rifle found at Evergreen High

Incident prompts lockdown of five schools

By Patty Hastings , Susan Parrish and Paul Suarez

Published:

Updated: December 12, 2012, 8:05 PM

 

Evergreen High School lockdown

A 16-year-old boy was arrested Wednesday on suspicion of felony possession of a stolen firearm, possessing a dangerous weapon on school grounds and second-degree unlawful possession of a firearm after a teacher discovered a weapon at Evergreen High School, police said.

The teen was booked into the Clark County Juvenile Detention Center. His name was not available Wednesday. He is expected to make a first appearance Thursday morning in Clark County Juvenile Court.

The student brought a single-shot Rossi .410 gauge, .22 caliber rifle/shotgun combination to school to sell to another student, said Vancouver police Cmdr. Dave King. The gun has interchangeable barrels, which were detached while the gun was at the school. It couldn’t be fired unless the barrels were attached, King said. The firearm was inside a nylon case the teen left under a table in a classroom he planned to return to later in the day.

Evergreen and four nearby schools — Cascade Middle School, Burton Elementary School, Evergreen Early Childhood Center and Legacy High School — were locked down.

No one was threatened with the weapon, according to Vancouver police.

“There were no threats made,” King said.

He said the large police response was partially driven by Tuesday’s events at Clackamas Town Center in the Portland area, where a gunman shot and killed two people before committing suicide.

“(Tuesday) was a really bad day in Clackamas,” he said. Police wanted to “err on the side of caution” Wednesday, he said.

Police will also “act differently” when there are reports of firearms and students, he said.

In a news release, police said a teacher reported that a student dropped off a bag in a classroom Wednesday morning and then left. The teacher looked inside the bag, discovered the weapon and immediately reported the incident to the school resource officer, who is a police officer assigned to the campus. The officer summoned backup at 8:23 a.m., according to a call log kept by 911 dispatchers.

Vancouver Police responded and began a search for the student and secured the weapon. The student was located and interviewed.

Police do not believe anyone else is involved in the incident.

A room-by-room search of the massive high school, which has about 2,000 students, continued through the morning. The school was released back to the staff at 11:45 a.m.

Northeast 138th Avenue was closed near Evergreen High School due to the police activity.

Wednesday was already scheduled as an early release day in the Evergreen School District. Early release was 11:55 a.m. for the high school, and 12:25 p.m. for younger students, according to Carol Fenstermacher, district spokesperson.

Cody Lint, 17, said he was in English class when the school made an announcement that the school was in lockdown. The senior said his class sat on the floor with the lights off for hours.

School staff didn’t tell students what was going on. They learned about the rifle by using Facebook on smartphones.

He said the ordeal was scary, especially considering what happened at Clackamas Town Center the day before.

The student who was going to buy the firearm was identified and interviewed, but he was not arrested or charged.

David Falls, who has two daughters at Evergreen High, was one of about a dozen people parked across the street, watching in the rain as students were led out of the school by police in groups at about 9:40 a.m. He lives close by and wanted to keep an eye on the events.

“I wanted to make sure my daughters are safe,” he said.

Parents waiting across the street from the school said they received text messages and phone calls from their kids. They were anxiously waiting to hear when and where they could pick up their children. One mother kept up to date on the situation through Evergreen Public School’s Facebook feed, which sent out a few updates throughout the event.

Cheyana Lewis, who has a son in seventh grade at Cascade Middle School, doesn’t have a Facebook page. She heard that someone found a rifle at Evergreen High School on the news.

“I’m frustrated,” she said of the situation. “I’m scared.”

Craig Brown and Stover Harger III contributed to this report.