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Sept. 21, 2020

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Kennewick students say classmate had ‘hit list’

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Kennewick– A Kennewick middle school student denies threatening to shoot his classmates, saying they’ve been making up rumors about him for a month.

The 13-year-old became upset and started crying when police confronted him at home.

He claimed he was having issues with another student in class at Desert Hills Middle School and had challenged him to a fight numerous times, according to court documents.

However, three classmates told officers the boy had a “hit list” or “kill list” with their names on top, and that he’d threatened to shoot up the school sometime in the near future, documents said.

The boy was arrested Tuesday on suspicion of felony harassment with threats to kill. He was released from the Benton-Franklin Juvenile Detention Center after posting $500 cash bail.

On Friday, he was charged with felony harassment with threats to kill, and will return to court Wednesday.

Kennewick police were called about the possible threat Dec. 2, and Officer Tim Harris, a school resource officer, was called at 6:15 a.m. Tuesday to look into it.

Harris and Officer Tony Valdez immediately talked with the boy and his father at their Kennewick home.

Harris wrote in court documents that he asked the teen to tell him what happened at school. The officer said he hadn’t even mentioned anything about a specific threat yet when the boy started talking about rumors of him and a school shooting.

The boy was adamant that he didn’t make any such threats, and just said he had a problem with one classmate and had been trying to fight the boy, documents said.

Valdez stayed with the boy to get a statement while Harris returned to campus to talk with witnesses, including the three classmates.

A school security officer reported hearing the threat Dec. 2 and searching the teen’s belongings for a “hit list,” but only finding a paper with gaming names on it.

One classmate said he had been touching the suspect’s water bottle in class, so the boy wrote his name down and said it was a list of his friends.

When asked if he was going to shoot up the school, the boy allegedly replied, “You’ll never know. You’re going to have to find out.” The classmate added that he was told it could happen in a day, a week or a month.

The classmate said the boy gets picked on at school and doesn’t fit in, so he believes the teen may be wanting revenge, court documents said.

A second classmate said the fellow student was bragging in class about being on the hit list, so others started confronting the boy to ask about his issues.

He reported that the boy said he was going to come after him with an M16 and blow his head off with a sawed-off shotgun, and that he believed the boy could carry out the threat, documents said.

That classmate also claimed the boy had been making suicidal statements in recent weeks.

A female classmate said she saw the boy on Dec. 2 threaten to “shoot his head off,” and added that he’s talked in the past about a school shooting, court documents said. She told police the boy had done a school presentation earlier this year on horror movies and serial killers.

Police said the teen did not have access to weapons from his parents.

After his arrest, the boy continued to deny making any threats and said he didn’t remember writing a list of names.

But when questioned more, he admitted writing down the names of the two male classmates but said he had thrown the paper away, documents said. He denied that it was a list to kill anyone.

In Benton County Juvenile Court last week, a judge found that the boy is “a threat to community safety,” and ordered that he be supervised at all times by either a parent or grandparent.

The teen was emergency expelled, which means school administrators have up to 10 days to review that decision and convert it into another type of corrective action.

He is allowed to go to school with a court-approved adult to meet with school officials but otherwise he cannot step foot onto the campus and must avoid any contact with the three classmates.

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