Student charged after threats, taking guns to school

Posted: Friday, January 18, 2002

BETHEL (AP) -- A 15-year-old Tununak boy was arrested Jan. 11 after he threatened to shoot teachers and fellow students at Tununak High School.

Police recovered two rifles the boy apparently hid in the snow underneath the school's gym, Tununak public safety officer Alexie Menegak told The Tundra Drums newspaper.

Tununak is on Nelson Island about 115 miles west of Bethel. The boy's name has not been released because of his age.

Menegak said a .22-caliber rifle and .223-caliber rifle were found under the school's gymnasium. Both guns were unloaded, but .22 cartridges were found in the boy's possession.

Menegak and another Tununak public safety officer were called to the school at 9:18 Friday morning after the boy was overheard in the school's bathroom threatening to shoot teachers and students before attempting suicide, according to Kent Harding, safety coordinator for the Lower Kuskokwim School District.

''He threatened to harm himself and others,'' Harding said. ''Fortunately there was a VPSO on site at the time who took the student into custody.''

School officials evacuated the building after learning of the threats, according to Trooper Tavis Allam.

The threat was reported to teachers by another student who was in the bathroom at the time.

Officer Menegak found the boy locked in the bathroom, crying to his mother, who was sitting outside the door.

''His mom was there talking to him,'' Menegak said.

Menegak was able to convince the boy to unlock the door and give himself up.

Alaska State Troopers stationed in Bethel flew to Tununak on Friday afternoon, but were unable to land because of bad weather.

Tununak's public safety office was too small to hold the boy until troopers arrived, so he was released in his parent's custody.

''We've got only one cell and we already have someone in there, so we had to release him to his parents for the night,'' Menegak said.

Troopers were able to reach Tununak on Saturday morning and transport the boy to Bethel, where he's being held at the Bethel youth facility.

The boy was booked on charges of terrorist threatening and misconduct involving weapons.

The school district sent counselors to Tununak on Monday to talk with students and staff.

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