Boy will be charged with felonies after B.G. school threats

Computer search leads to 13-year-old's arrest

By Emily Gillespie, Columbian breaking news reporter

Published:

Updated: September 24, 2013, 5:35 PM

 

A 13-year-old Battle Ground boy accused of making threats against the students and staff of Chief Umtuch Middle School faces two felony charges. The threats were to be carried out Sept. 11.

Jeff Ardire Erwin, who was a student at the school, faces a charge of making threats to bomb the school and a charge of harassment with death threats, according to documents filed Friday in Clark County Juvenile Court.

The probable cause affidavit outlines the reasoning behind the charges:

Battle Ground Police were called about 8:30 p.m. on Sept. 10 to the middle school, 700 N.W. Ninth Street, for a report of two threats submitted anonymously to “Dear Amicus,” a message board on the school’s website. The board was set up by students, a teacher and the school counselor as a forum for students to pose anonymous questions to be answered by student peers.

Messages are screened by school staff before they appear on the website, so the threats weren’t published online.

The threats stated that the writer, who signed his notes “Suicide Boy” and “Suicidal Terrorist,” would kill everyone in the school starting with Principal Dave Cresap. The threats specified the date Sept. 11 and warned people to look for bombs.

School administrators determined at the time that these threats were credible and decided to close the middle school the following day. Four other Battle Ground public schools and one private school were also closed due to the threats.

On Sept. 11, a special agent with the FBI and an investigator from the Vancouver Police Department’s Digital Evidence Cyber Unit assisted in identifying the computer and email account used to make the threats, which led investigators to Erwin.

Police made contact with Erwin and his mother, who allowed officers to search the computer. Investigators allegedly found evidence of both threats on the computer and Erwin admitted to making the threats, according to court documents.

After his arrest, Erwin was released to his parents’ custody. He received an emergency expulsion, wherein school administrators are allowed 10 days to decide whether and how to discipline the student.

“The 10 days is up tomorrow (Wednesday),” said Duane Rose, the district’s interim superintendent. “My understanding is that no decision has been made yet” on long-term discipline.

Battle Ground School District Spokesman Gregg Herrington would not say whether Erwin had been permanently expelled or admitted back to school. It is district policy not to disclose matters of student discipline, Herrington said. He said the district originally released the information about Erwin’s emergency expulsion to ease parents’ fears of the threats and let them know the student would not return to school immediately.

Erwin is scheduled to make his first juvenile court appearance on the charges Oct. 1.


Emily Gillespie:http://twitter.com/col_cops; emily.gillespie@columbian.com.