Prosecutor: Boy searched for "how to commit mass murder" on Internet

Skyview student accused of making death threats

By Paris Achen, Columbian courts reporter

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A prosecutor says a 15-year-old boy accused of threatening to kill students at Skyview High School may face additional charges after new information over the weekend revealed the boy searched for “how to commit mass murder” on the Internet.

Nicholas Reynolds, who is a ninth-grader at the school, pleaded not guilty Monday to a charge of felony harassment — death threats before being released from the Clark County Juvenile Detention Center. His trial is scheduled for May 21.

“This appears to be taking a joke too far,” said John Terry, Reynolds’ new attorney.

Reynolds’ parents hired Terry to replace a court-appointed attorney.

Clark County Court Commissioner Dayann Liebman placed Reynolds on house arrest Monday after reviewing his mental health screening and hearing arguments from Terry and Deputy Prosecutor Rick Olson.

“Nicholas and parents, that’s sort of a short leash,” Liebman warned. “If you stumble, you will be back in detention.”

A mental health screening found that Reynolds has no history of mental health issues or school discipline.

“It basically says at home and in his personal life, he is a pretty well-behaved kid,” Liebman said.

“Have you seen any of this coming?” she asked the parents.

“No,” they replied.

“The concerning part is that the parents never saw this coming, and here we are,” she said.

Terry said Reynolds’ mother had resigned from her job, effective Monday, to provide 24-hour supervision of Reynolds while he is on house arrest.

Olson did not argue for or against Reynolds’ release but noted that new information about his Internet activity could result in more charges.

“It’s very hard to get inside the brain of somebody and determine whether he’s a threat or not. If he doesn’t have a past … I don’t know what to expect for his future,” Olson said.

Terry said Reynolds performs well in school and helps out around the house. “He’s new to the community and doesn’t have a lot of friends, but he is very close to his family,” Terry said.

Reynolds’ parents declined additional comment after Monday’s hearing.

According to court records, Reynolds told another student that he was going to “go up on the balcony during lunch and shoot people. Security first, so I won’t be bothered.”

The student said the threats started about two weeks ago and had escalated to a point where “he thinks Nick is serious and may go through with it.” Reynolds allegedly showed the classmate a website where he planned to buy an assault rifle. There’s no evidence Reynolds obtained a firearm or had access to one, according to Clark County sheriff’s deputies who investigated.

The boy later told investigators that he was joking and that his words were taken out of context, according to court records.

Pat Mattison, a Vancouver Public Schools spokeswoman, said privacy rules prevent her from disclosing whether the district has expelled Reynolds on an emergency basis.

A formal disciplinary hearing for him has not yet been scheduled, she said.