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Sophomore In Custody

Student arrested in 'bomb' hoax

A 17-year-old student at Columbia High School was taken into custody at the school on Wednesday, Feb. 20, and charged under Washington state's "Threats to Bomb" law.

Klickitat County Sheriff's Office deputies Jason Ritoch and Det. Mike Kallio interviewed several students at the school on the morning of Feb. 20. As a result of those interviews, KCSO officials said they found "probable cause" to make an arrest in the case.

The arrest of the male student came one day after he allegedly wrote a threatening message -- "BOMB IN SCHOOL" -- on a mirror in a C Court rest room.

Dale Palmer, superintendent of the White Salmon Valley School District, said the sophomore was given an "emergency suspension" and is expected to be expelled from school for at least the remainder of the school year. He also faces felony charges, fines, and possible time in jail.

According to Palmer, the student "bragged that he did not want to go to school that day, and told other kids he would come up with something."

"The boy wanted out of school for the day, and found a way to do that," added CHS Principal Tim McGlothlin. "But he paid a big consequence. It's like shouting `fire!' in a crowded theater."

The juvenile student, whose name was not released by authorities, was arrested without incident and transported to the Sheriff's Office in Goldendale. He was subsequently placed in a correctional facility, and the case was referred to the Klickitat County Juvenile Department and the Prosecutor's Office.

KCSO Sheriff Chris Mace said deputies were still interviewing students as of last Thursday, but believed the person arrested "was the main person involved," according to Mace.

"We have no other information that would lead me to believe someone else was involved in this," said Elmer Kinder, dean of students at CHS.

Kinder added that the incident had an emotional impact for some of the students.

"It can be pretty traumatic to believe someone would even try to do that," Kinder explained. "Some kids were scared."

In a related development, two sophomores at CHS were suspended for intimidating some of the students who went to school officials with information about the bomb threat.

"They were bullying those who came forward," McGlothlin said. "They were not part of the original incident, but were friends of the boy responsible. We take a real serious view of intimidating or bullying other kids. We just basically don't tolerate it."

McGlothlin added that he was gratified that so many students came forward to offer information about who left the bomb message.

"That's a sign of a healthy school," McGlothlin said. "We have to stand up and not tolerate this. It disrupted the entire school."

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