Police arrested a Garfield student for investigation of harassment after he allegedly made threats to shoot his classmates.
Earlier this month, a Garfield High School student told classmates he planned to pull the school’s fire alarm and, once the students were outside, he would begin shooting them, according to Seattle police. The boy said he was joking, but he told another student he would be at the top of his “kill list.”
That student told a teacher, who “nervously laughed,” and disregarded the information, police reported. The teacher never mentioned the alleged threat to other staff.
It wasn’t until the student reported a different threat, this time from an image on Snapchat, to another teacher that the school contacted police, who arrested the boy Feb. 16 for investigation of harassment.
Seattle Public Schools leaders are concerned by reports that the initial tip at Garfield wasn’t reported by the teacher as it should have been, district spokeswoman Kim Schmanke said in a statement.
Most Read Local Stories
- Is fare enforcement unconstitutional? WA Supreme Court case could have sweeping effects
- 5 incarcerated teens attack staff, escape from juvenile facility near Snoqualmie
- Seattle's post-5 p.m. sunsets are here
- Coronavirus daily news updates, January 26: What to know today about COVID-19 in the Seattle area, Washington state and the world
- Boy hurt in Seattle hit-run; his mother hopes sharing photos will keep the focus on finding the driver
“Thankfully, students courageously brought this up again with school leadership,” she said. “…. We are so proud of the students for making sure school leaders received this tip directly.”
It’s unclear what, if any, repercussions the teacher who failed to report the initial tip could face. She submitted a letter of resignation Friday, the same day the student was arrested. It also wasn’t immediately clear whether her resignation had anything to do with the incident.
The Garfield incident comes amid a focus on school safety in the wake of the Parkland, Florida, high-school shooting, where 17 people were killed by a gunman. The FBI said last week that it failed to act on an earlier tip about the alleged shooter, Nikolas Cruz, related to his threats and erratic behavior.
Since the Parkland shooting, schools across the nation have reported dozens of incidents involving threats of violence on campus, CNN reported.
After he allegedly made the initial comments, the accused Garfield student told classmates to add him on Snapchat, so they would have warning if he planned to shoot anyone, according to Seattle police. On Friday, two days after the deadly school shooting in Florida, he posted an image of a revolver with a student’s face coming out of a barrel.
The classmate once again reported the incident, this time with a screenshot of the Snapchat image, to other school staff. Police arrested the student for investigation of harassment.
Garfield Principal Ted Howard wrote in a letter sent Tuesday to families that the school followed its safety protocol and immediately contacted the Seattle Police Department and the district’s safety and security office after it received a report.
“Please know that we take student safety very seriously; the well-being of our students is our top concern,” Howard wrote in the letter.
Howard wrote that when classes resume Monday — schools are on midwinter break — there will be a staff meeting on how they should report information about safety concerns.
Police said classmates described the student as having a dark sense of humor, mostly regarding politics, and opinionated. A counselor said he is a “nice kid that is just suffering,” from a difficult time at school and at home. He was never observed being violent, but classmates said he had watched violent and graphic videos on his cellphone during class.
He appeared to be surprised when officers arrived at his home, police said. He apologized for making threatening comments and said he wasn’t serious.