Two 16-year-old Eisenhower High School students accused of bringing a gun to campus have been turned over to their families’ custody, for the time being.
During preliminary hearings Friday at the Yakima County Juvenile Justice Center, Superior Court Judge Ruth Reukauf said she would not hesitate to put them back in custody if they violate the strict terms of their release, including being under constant adult supervision, no access to social media and only supervised use of the internet for educational purposes.
“I take these allegations seriously,” Reukauf said during the hearings. “We need to have an expectation that a child is going to come home at night (from school), not in a body bag needing to be identified.”
Since the Feb. 14, 2018, shooting at Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., that killed 15 students and two school staff, Reukauf said she has seen more than a dozen teens come through accused of making threats against local schools.
Police said one of the 16-year-olds posted on a social media network a photo of the other one with a gun on his lap at the school. Someone notified police through Yakima County Crime Stoppers, a police news release said, and officers and school staff quickly identified the student in the picture Thursday.
After taking that student into custody, police arrested the second boy and recovered the gun at his house. Both are being held on suspicion of second-degree unlawful firearms possession and bringing a dangerous weapon to school.
The second boy’s mother told Reukauf that her son was expelled from school because of the incident, while the other mother said district officials were waiting to see what happened in court Friday before acting.
Reukauf said she was concerned about a teenager buying a gun without his parents’ knowledge, purportedly for protection. If the boy was being threatened, he should have spoken with a parent or school authorities rather than trying to take matters into his own hands, Reukauf said.
Neither boy had a prior criminal record, Yakima County Prosecuting Attorney Joe Brusic said. But he didn’t have information other than that contained in a court affidavit, he added.
In addition to restricting their access to the internet and requiring them to be under constant adult supervision, Reukauf also barred them from contacting each other. Any violation of the conditions would result in them being returned to the juvenile jail, she warned the boys.
“I am one phone call away from placing you back in custody,” Reukauf said.