Stephens Middle School student arrested for bringing gun in backpack, police say

A Salem Police Department vehicle on Friday, Nov. 12, 2021. (Amanda Loman/Salem Reporter)

This story was updated with more information about the student arrested.

The Salem Police Department arrested a student at Stephens Middle School Monday morning who they say had a gun in his backpack at school.

Classmates saw the gun and “immediately reported to staff that there was a firearm at school and in the possession of a student,” Principal David Wood said in an email to Stephens families. He said another student separately was found with a knife and both weapons were confiscated.

The student arrested was a 13-year-old boy, said Lt. Treven Upkes, spokesperson for Salem police.

Police responded to the school around 10:40 a.m. Staff detained the student who had the gun without incident before officers arrived, the department said in a Monday news release.

At this time, the investigation is still ongoing; however, we do not believe this was related to a planned attack on the school. The student who brought the firearm to school was taken into custody,” Wood said in the email to families.

Officers seized the firearm and took the student to the Marion County Juvenile Detention Facility on two counts of menacing, unlawful possession of a firearm and possession of a firearm in a public building.

Police did not release the student’s name, as juvenile court records are generally confidential under state law.

The department said it wouldn’t release anymore information, citing an ongoing investigation.

“Please know the disciplinary actions associated with situations like these are severe, but we must respect the privacy of those directly involved in this incident,” Wood said.

Oregon law requires school districts to expel students who bring a gun to school, except as part of a class or training program, though superintendents may modify that requirement on a case-by-case basis.

The school was not placed on a lockdown during the incident because it was resolved quickly, Salem-Keizer School District spokesman Aaron Harada said. Harada said he did not know the student’s age or grade.

He said typically after a potentially traumatic incident, school counselors and employees check in with the student’s friends and peers. If there’s a need for more help, the district’s crisis team can send additional people to counsel students, though that hasn’t happened at Stephens.

“It is a possibility. If the need is there, the principal will let us know,” Harada said.

Police encouraged anyone with information about a safety threat or potential violent act at a school to call police or contact school administration. People can also submit tips about potential threats on school campuses to Safe Oregon through their online reporting system, or by contacting them at 1-844-472-3367 or [email protected]

Contact reporter Ardeshir Tabrizian: [email protected] or 503-929-3053. Contact reporter Rachel Alexander: [email protected] or 503-575-1241.

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