An 18-year-old Edmonds-Woodway High School student who pointed a gun at the head of another student in a school bathroom Tuesday morning is now in Snohomish County Jail, facing charges of second-degree assault.
The student, who has an Everett address, was located by Everett police in north Everett Tuesday afternoon. Police also recovered, at an Everett location, the gun believed to be used in the incident.
The gun was described by police as an air gun “with an authentic appearance.” Under Washington state law, air guns can be purchased and owned legally by anyone 18 years or older.
According to Edmonds police, the incident occurred around 11:30 a.m. Tuesday. One of the witnesses had taken cell phone video of part of the encounter and it was later seen by other students on social media, Edmonds police spokesman Sgt. Josh McClure said. Two concerned students came forward and reported it to a school official around noon, at which time the school called 911. Edmonds officers responded to the school just after noon and began investigating.
Surveillance footage reviewed by police indicated that the student left campus around 11:45 a.m., before any school official was aware of the gun incident. The victim and witnesses reported that the suspect had pulled a gun from his backpack, pointed it at the head of the victim and pulled the trigger. The gun was described as a black handgun and the suspect claimed that it was real.
McClure said the student faces second-degree assault charges because the victim that he threatened thought it was a real handgun. “If everybody thinks it’s a gun, it’s a gun,” McClure said.
In probable cause documents filed with the court, all three juvenile male students in the bathroom at the time of incident said in their statements to police they “believed the gun looked very real.” In addition, when the suspect pointed the gun at one of the boys, the victim stated he “was scared for his life,” noting that the suspect pulled the trigger, pretending to “shoot and or rob” him.
Edmonds Police Chief Al Compaan praised the actions of the students who first reported the incident. “I first want to recognize those brave students who came forward to report what they had seen on social media,” Compaan said. “Their actions allowed school and police officials to quickly work together and address this extreme safety concern. We will continue to partner with Edmonds-Woodway High School and the school district to address issues of public safety that I know are on the mind of every parent each day that their child goes to school.”
Edmonds police provided a presence at the school Wednesday morning, and will continue investigating the matter, McClure said. A final charging decision will come from the Snohomish County Prosecutor’s office.
Meanwhile, in a follow-up letter sent to EWHS families Wednesday, school principal Terrance Mims said the suspect is no longer at the school.
“The Edmonds School District has zero tolerance for weapons of any kind in our schools,” Mims said. “We take these incidents very seriously and in all cases, students who commit these kinds of infractions are immediately removed from school and face serious school discipline consequences.”
In an earlier letter sent to parents Tuesday, Mims had said that school officials thought that no threats were made to students and staff. However, in Wednesday’s letter Mims acknowledged that additional information discovered by police revealed the suspect had used the gun “in a threatening manner.”
Mims encouraged parents to listen and talk to their students about the incident. “If a student leans toward anxiety, depression or self-harming behavior, this can be a particularly difficult time,” Mims wrote. “If you are concerned for your student or if you need support, we encourage you to contact our Guidance Counselors at 425-431-7915 for assistance.”
The principal also praised the students who came forward to share this information,” adding they “did exactly what we want anyone to do when they know of a potential threat to school safety.”
The district has a Safe Schools Alert tip line that can be used by anyone to anonymously report any concerns, and reports can be made by phone or text message. That number is 425-551-7393.