New details have emerged in the Jan. 7 incident at Bonney Lake High School in which a 15-year-old student brought a gun to school, including the information that the security guard sent to bring the student to the office was not told of the weapon.
Prompted by the incident, Sumner School District officials are also working to quickly add a “report of weapon” plan to the catalog of more than 50 emergency response plans kept on file by the school district.
District Communications Director Ann Cook said the district has 53 “standardized response plans” in place for incidents such as “air pollution alert to lightning strikes to a bomb threat, but no single “student with a weapon” response.
Cook said the incident could have fallen under three different plans and the confusion and decision to move quickly led to the school’s head of security being sent to bring the student to the office without being told of the possible weapon, which Cook said would not happen again.
“I do believe that we won’t see that kind of response,” she said. “I don’t think that will be repeated.”
According to the police report, officers were first dispatched to Bonney Lake High School at 7:44 a.m. for a report of a student with a gun. Dispatch later advised the student and gun were contained in the principal’s office.
According to the report, Assistant Principal Brian Sheerer told police that at approximately 7:20 a.m. the suspect told another student he brought a small gun to school. That student told another student, who later called a parent working at another school, who called the high school to report what her son told her.
Once the claim of a gun was confirmed, Sheerer sent Campus Security Officer Antonio Quiming to retrieve the suspect. According to the report, “Quiming said that when he was escorting (the suspect) to Sheerer’s office he was not told that (the suspect) had a weapon on him.”
During the walk, the suspect “was fidgeting with his ants” and asked to go to the restroom, but Quiming did not allow it because he thought the student might try to dispose of drugs.
Once they arrived at the office, the student repeatedly denied he had a gun in his possession until Quiming said he noticed an object in the student’s right front pocket. When asked to stand up, the student admitted to having the gun and campus security removed a .22 caliber semi-automatic pistol from the student’s possession. The weapon was loaded with four rounds of ammunition.
The student was emergency expelled and transported to Remann Hall to be booked on one count of unlawful possession of a firearm.
There is no indication in the police report as to why the student brought the gun to school in the first place, though Cook said she was told by the principal that the student said it was for target shooting after school.
Following the incident, Cook said the district met with representatives from the Sumner Police Department, the Bonney Lake Police Department and the Pierce County Sheriff’s Department to discuss a new standardized response plan for a student with a weapon.
Cook said the details of the plan would not be released, but said in the future police would immediately be brought in, bypassing security.
“What will be different in this new response plan is the standard will be whenever possible, police will approach the student,” Cook said.
Cook also said the plan would not differentiate between the type of weapon, something suggested by the police.
Calls to other local school districts produced a mixed bag of response plans. In Puyallup, the district has a specific plan for “Student with a weapon (gun)” which begins with a call to 911 before moving to a “modified lockdown” and has police officers contacting the student “whenever possible.”
White River, however, has no specific plan in place and Keith Banks, Director of Human Resources, said the district participated in the meeting with Sumner and is planning a similar meeting with the Buckley police to develop a similar protocol.
Bonney Lake Police Chief Mike Mitchell said he was surprised to find out the security officer was not told of the weapon and said the hour-long meeting with the district produced “very workable responses.”
“Although no students were pat at risk, we felt there was a better way to handle the situation,” he said, adding that he was pleased the district and police department would work closer together in the future.
Cook said the district was pleased with the direction it was given from the police and again reiterated that no threats were made during the Jan. 7 incident.
“The good news is there was no intent to harm and it was definitely a lack of judgment on the young man’s part and did provide us with the opportunity to look at what we’re doing and improve on it,” she said.