Crime

West Richland teen denies threatening school. It was video game research, he says

West Richland police were on hand at Enterprise Middle School on Thursday after a student accused of threatening a shooting at the school was released on bail. The teen was later re-arrested for violating the terms of his release.
West Richland police were on hand at Enterprise Middle School on Thursday after a student accused of threatening a shooting at the school was released on bail. The teen was later re-arrested for violating the terms of his release. Tri-City Herald

An Enterprise Middle School student charged with threatening to kill a teacher and anybody else who got in his way told officials he was researching guns used in his video games.

Victor Ortiz, 13, denied making comments or threats about a school shooting, according to court documents.

He was released Wednesday night after posting bail but was arrested again at 9 a.m. Thursday after West Richland police saw him leave his home in violation of the terms of his release. His bail was set at $5,000.

Ortiz did not go onto school property, police and school officials said.

“West Richland Police Department officers witnessed the student violating the conditions of his release,” Principal Jennifer Klauss said in an email to parents. “The violation was promptly reported to the assigned probation counselor, resulting in authorization to place the student back into custody.”

A judge told Ortiz if he was released he was not to leave home or come within 2,000 feet of Enterprise Middle School. He also was told to stay off the internet and any electronic devices, and not to possess any guns, knives or other weapons, according to court documents.

Ortiz also is prohibited from being on any other Richland School District property because of his expulsion. And a mental health evaluation was to be conducted before he was released. It’s unclear if that happened.

Ortiz, who also uses the last name of Davenport, was charged Wednesday in Benton County Juvenile Court with felony harassment.

Hours on his Chromebook

Deputy Prosecutor Annie Chau wrote in court documents that Ortiz was in class Jan. 25 when he showed two fellow students “the cost of body parts using his school-issued Chromebook.”

The next day, he told the same two students that he was going to shoot up the school, documents said.

Those kids, who reported being scared, went to the principal after school. One student also shared that he felt targeted by Ortiz’s statements, court documents said.

Ortiz had been suspended from school recently for fighting with another student and was upset over that suspension, Klauss told police.

An information technology staff member searched Ortiz’s Chromebook and found searches for “mini guns, gun brokers, attack drones, attack drones for sale, urban armory, designing your own body armor, rifles, school shooting memes (and) prices of body parts,” documents said.

Ortiz allegedly spent three hours on Jan. 25, a Thursday, looking at topics that included guns, weapons, crimes and terrorism.

He was arrested on Sunday.

West Richland Police Department
West Richland police have been investigating an Enterprise Middle School student, Victor Ortiz, who is accused of threatening a shooting at his school. He’s being held at the Benton-Franklin Juvenile Detention Center in Kennewick. Noelle Haro-Gomez Tri-City Herald

A 14-year-old student reported that Ortiz talked about making bombs and blowing up stuff, and discussed using the fellow student as a lookout on the school roof during a shooting.

The teen said he didn’t tell anyone about Ortiz’s alleged plan because he was afraid the younger teen would beat him up.

‘He lied about the house with the guns’

Police found that a second teen’s story was at least partially false.

The 14-year-old student talked to West Richland police last weekend and claimed Ortiz had been talking about school shootings for a month.

The boy said he did not know if Ortiz was being serious or sarcastic, but added that Ortiz had pulled out a large, serrated knife from his backpack one day at school.

He claimed overhearing Ortiz saying he was going to “mow” everybody down and anybody who got in his way, court documents said.

That student also falsely claimed he had gone with Ortiz to a Bluewood Street home earlier in the month. The teen said Ortiz showed him guns and pointed at a locked box, saying he would use the weapon inside if he went through with it.

In a follow-up interview with that student, the teen admitted lying about going to a house with Ortiz.

The student said “he felt unsafe, was concerned about the investigation, and did not feel that a knife and (Ortiz) looking up websites were enough, so he lied about the house with the guns,” Chau wrote in court documents.

The friend said he never saw the house, guns or a spiral notebook with plans for a shooting or a drawing of the school.

“When asked what his biggest concern was regarding (Ortiz), (the friend) stated he was concerned with the suspect going through with his plans,” Chau wrote.

A search of Ortiz’s home turned up a butterfly knife, a knife with a .50-caliber design, two folding knives, two throwing stars, and an unloaded .40-caliber pistol inside a locked box. The box also held two magazines with ammunition.

After he was arrested, he told police the research on his school laptop was related to games like Call of Duty and Battlefield.

The interview with the teen ended when his grandmother advised him to ask for an attorney.

Kristin M. Kraemer: 509-582-1531, @KristinMKraemer

Cameron Probert: 509-582-1402, @cameroncprobert

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