Police arrest suspect in Skyline High School shooting threat
October 2, 2012
By Warren Kagarise
UPDATED — 11:20 a.m. Oct. 2, 2012
Police have arrested a suspect in the Sept. 20 online shooting threat against Skyline High School students, a King County Sheriff’s Office spokeswoman confirmed Tuesday morning.
Sgt. Cindi West, spokeswoman for the agency, said police arrested a suspect in the case, but could not release additional details, pending a 12:30 p.m. news conference at Sammamish City Hall.
The suspect is a former Skyline student, Principal Lisa Hechtman announced in a message to parents late Tuesday morning.
In the post about Skyline, a still-unidentified online bulletin board user threatened to unleash a Columbine-style attack and shoot students on campus.
Issaquah School District administrators characterized the decision to close the Sammamish school as a precaution, and the school reopened Sept. 21, albeit at a later time and as extra police officers, parent volunteers and counselors greeted students.
Investigators spent the days after the discovery attempting to pinpoint the user behind the threat posted Sept. 19 on the online bulletin board 4chan.
Police traced the post to a proxy server in Sweden — a common technique to mask computer users’ identities — and hit a dead end.
Investigators could not initially verify whether the threat came from a Skyline student or anybody in the area, despite several interviews and a forensic investigation by the King County Sheriff’s Office and the FBI.
In the 4chan post, the user outlined plans to take his or her father’s Erma sub-machine gun and “open fire on the people in the commons” until law enforcement officers killed the shooter, or until he or she ran out of ammunition.
The post made a specific reference to “jocks” as “the biggest offender” and also said “the people at that school use their wealth and social status to act superior to others.”
The user also included a photo purporting to show the sub-machine gun, although police later said the image is traceable to a classified advertisement and did not appear to be original.
Issaquah School Board President Brian Deagle, parent of Skyline students, credited investigators for the surprising arrest in the case, but could not offer additional details about the arrest.
“No. 1, excellent work by our law enforcement, after not having any word from law enforcement after the first weekend we thought it was unlikely that we would see any results,” he said Tuesday morning. “It makes the community feel better about the fact that the individual that made this threat, the police believe they have the person that is responsible.”
Deagle said his connection to the school as a parent made the experience more difficult.
“My daughters are a tenth grader and a senior, and I heard from them how they felt about and their reaction…it becomes very personal when it’s directed directly at your school,” he continued. “When I step back, the way the district and the school responded made me proud as a board member, but also as a parent.”
Reporter Lillian O’Rorke contributed to this article.