School shooting threat prompts police response, arrest at Nooksack Valley High School

A potential school threat prompted a police response Wednesday to Nooksack Valley High School and a 17-year-old student was arrested, two days after a Ferndale High School student was arrested for making a similar threat.

Early Wednesday, a 17-year-old student made a verbal threat that he “wanted to shoot up the school,” according to a Facebook post on the Nooksack Valley High School page from Principal Matt Galley. The student, who is a junior at the school, was searched by administration and no weapons were found, according to an email from Chief Deputy Kevin Hester with the Whatcom County Sheriff’s Office.

Sheriff’s deputies responded, interviewed the students involved and determined the students and school were safe, the Facebook post reads. The student who made the threat was arrested on suspicion of felony harassment with threats to kill and he was booked into the Juvenile Detention center, Hester said.

“As can be the case in a small school, many students are aware of today’s events, and we recognize this can be a scary and hard thing for students to process,” the Facebook post says. “It might be helpful to discuss today’s events with your student so that we all have a shared understanding of the situation. Please assure your student that every effort will be taken to ensure that student safety will continue to be a priority for all of Nooksack Valley schools.”

Later Wednesday night, a rumor began circulating on social media that the student wasn’t acting alone and that there was still a threat to the school. The sheriff’s office determined the threat wasn’t credible and the students were safe, a secondary Facebook post says.

Administrators emailed staff and parents mid-afternoon about the situation after the sheriff’s office’s investigation was over, Galley said in an interview with The Bellingham Herald.

“We know it wasn’t traveling as fast as social media, but we got it out as quickly as we could based on what we knew was going on here. It’s not like we were on lockdown or we had an immediate and ongoing threat. There was an investigation going on with law enforcement on campus,” Galley said. “When we had the relevant information we communicated it as quickly as we could.”

Galley said parents are still expected to call the school if their student is going to be absent, or it will be marked as unexcused.

“The school is running as it normally would today and tomorrow and we’re confident that we’re able to get back to business as usual,” Galley said.

Everson police and sheriff’s deputies are expected to be present at the high school Thursday.

The threat comes two days after a 14-year-old Ferndale High School student was arrested after he allegedly threatened to shoot his classmates.

Parents called the police Monday to say their sons said that during school Monday a fellow student told them “they should not go to school Wednesday and that he was going to shoot it up,” according to a Ferndale Police Department press release.

The student was arrested and booked into the Whatcom County Juvenile Detention center on suspicion of threats to bomb or injure property, according to the release.

The teenager didn’t have immediate access to weapons, but there were firearms stored in a safe in the family home, the release stated.

Ferndale police said they had no previous contacts with the student.

Denver Pratt: 360-715-2236, @DenverPratt