More than two months after a 10-year-old student took a gun to a Salem elementary school, local government officials continue to keep details about what happened away from the public.
The Marion County Sheriff’s Office last week closed an investigation into how the student obtained the gun, spokesman Lt. Chris Baldridge said. Police couldn’t close the case until investigators contacted a person of interest in the case, he said.
The police report was forwarded Tuesday night to Marion County District Attorney Paige Clarkson, who will decide whether to charge anyone for allowing access to the handgun.
Baldridge said Monday that the office still can’t discuss the investigation until the case is resolved.
Students at Four Corners Elementary School on the afternoon of Oct. 3 told teachers a classmate had a gun at school. Staff determined the gun was not loaded, called police and notified parents and the public.
“The gun was located after students saw the weapon and brought it to the attention of staff members at the school,” a news release sent out after the incident said.
Left out of those public messages from police and school officials was information that the student had the gun during a bus ride to the school that morning and one day earlier, details contained in district emails later obtained by Salem Reporter.
Authorities wouldn’t explain why the public wasn’t told that information or provide any details about the gun’s path at the school.
Records that could shed light on those questions remain off limits. The sheriff’s office issued a press release with some information, including a police photograph of the gun, but twice have refused to release police reports about the incident. The agency said it was prohibited from doing so because a juvenile was involved and because it would interfere with a police investigation.
The student who brought the gun to school was referred to the county’s juvenile department, said Deputy District Attorney Amy Queen. That department can work with families on support plans to help address whatever issues led to the child’s behavior.
In Oregon, it’s unusual for children under 13 to be criminally charged unless they seriously injure or kill someone.
Troy Gregg, the juvenile department director, said the student is not being criminally charged. He would not say how the department was handling the student’s specific case, but said children that age are usually put in a family support program to help prevent future offenses.
Federal law prohibits the Salem-Keizer School District from discussing discipline for a student, but Oregon law mandates that a student who brings a firearm to school be expelled unless the superintendent makes an exception.
CORRECTION: Troy Gregg did return a telephone message before publication of this story but it was not received until after publication because of a technology issue. The story originally reported that he didn't respond. Salem Reporter is sorry for the error.
Reporter Rachel Alexander: (503) 575-1241 or [email protected]