Crime

North Thurston High School shooting suspect to be tried as a minor

School staff and law enforcement members stand at the main entrance at North Thurston High School on April 27 after two gunshots were fired inside. The 17-year-old suspect will be tried in Thurston County Juvenile Court.
School staff and law enforcement members stand at the main entrance at North Thurston High School on April 27 after two gunshots were fired inside. The 17-year-old suspect will be tried in Thurston County Juvenile Court. Staff photographer

The 17-year-old suspect accused of firing shots inside North Thurston High School in April will be tried in Thurston County Juvenile Court.

The suspect, who was 16 at the time of his arrest, appeared in juvenile court Tuesday before Thurston County Court Commissioner Indu Thomas.

Deputy Prosecutor Wayne Graham withdrew a motion asking that the suspect be tried as an adult in Thurston County Superior Court. The motion was filed May 26.

Graham said he made the decision based on an evaluation of the suspect conducted by Landon Poppleton, a Vancouver, Washington-based psychologist. Graham said the report made clear that the “blunt instruments” of the adult criminal justice system would not be suited to this case.

“Juvenile court is the best way to fashion a just sentence for (the suspect)” Graham said.

Because he is a minor, The Olympian will not release the suspect’s name.

The suspect allegedly fired a .357 Magnum twice inside the high school before a teacher subdued him. No one was injured in the incident.

The teen is being held in the county’s juvenile detention center, and faces five charges stemming from the April 27 incident: theft of a firearm, harassment, unlawful possession of a firearm in the second degree, possession of a firearm on school grounds, and discharging a firearm or dangerous weapon.

At Tuesday’s hearing, Graham made a motion for a manifest injustice sentence, which, according to state statute, allows for a sentence outside of the standard sentencing range if one within the standard range would be unfair.

The suspect is being held in lieu of $500,000 bail, and Thomas did not change the conditions of his release.

“Clearly, Dr. Poppleton’s every indication is that he needs to remain in custody,” Thomas said.

This isn’t the suspect’s first run-in with the law. His criminal history includes three fourth-degree assault convictions from late 2014. According to King County court documents, he was arrested Oct. 14 after two female classmates at Mount Rainier High School in Des Moines, where he previously attended, reported they had been groped by the teen on multiple occasions.

He was expelled from Mount Rainier High and pleaded guilty to all three charges. He was sentenced to 30 days in a juvenile detention facility, two years of probation and 20 hours of community service and counseling.

Amelia Dickson: 360-754-5445

adickson@theolympian.com

@Amelia_Oly

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