Even as investigators were unravelling the tragic events surrounding shootings at a Connecticut school on Friday, Bartlesville police were working to prevent a similar occurrence at the local high school.
Police have arrested an 18-year-old for allegedly planning a mass shooting at Bartlesville High School.
Sammie Eaglebear Chavez is in custody and was being held on a $1 million bond on charges of conspiracy to perform an act of violence involving serious bodily harm or death threats-devising plan, scheme or program of action to cause serious bodily harm or death.
According to a probable cause affidavit filed Friday in district court, Layne Jones, assistant principal for the high school, alerted the Bartlesville Police Department on Thursday that there had been “possible threats toward the student body by a student.”
Reportedly, a student confirmed to authorities that he had been in the cafeteria on Dec. 12 and that Chavez “tried to recruit other students to assist him with carrying out a plan to lure students into the school auditorium where he planned to begin shooting them after chaining the doors shut,” the affidavit states.
Chavez reportedly further said that if the students that were assisting him did not do as they were supposed to do that “he would not hesitate to kill them and/or himself.”
Police say he additionally said that he planned to “place bombs by the doors so when the police arrived he would detonate the bombs, killing the police as they entered the building.”
Authorities contend that Chavez had been attempting to obtain a map or diagram of the building. Chavez had reportedly told a teacher that “he had recently purchased a Colt .45 handgun and spent the weekend shooting it.”
Police further allege that Chavez had performed Internet searches for a “.22 caliber rifle on a machine gun platform” on school computers as recent as Nov. 30, as well as information on “how to build pipe bombs” and information on “the Columbine High School Massacre.”
Authorities reportedly located Chavez around 4:50 a.m. Friday at a residence on Adeline in west Bartlesville. He was taken into custody at that time and a search was conducted of the residence.
When contacted Friday, BPD Capt. Jay Hastings said police are uncertain whether there will be further arrests.
“The investigation continues and we still have a lot of interviews to do,” he said.
Bartlesville Public School District officials could not be reached for comment, but issued a statement late Friday stating that administrators contacted police in response to a “rumor in which a current Bartlesville High School student was planning to potentially harm students and staff” at the school.
“School administrators took the information extremely seriously and informed the Bartlesville Police Department of the alleged plan. The student alleged to be planning to harm others was not at Bartlesville High School yesterday and no students were ever in danger,” the release states.
“We are extremely pleased that our students were never in harm’s way. I am proud of our administrative personnel who took what started out as an unsubstantiated rumor, and through their diligent work and exhaustive investigation were able to determine there could be a future threat,” said BPSD Superintendent Dr. Gary W. Quinn.
“We appreciate the excellent relationship we have with our local law enforcement and their swift response to the information we provided them. We will always put the safety of the students of the Bartlesville Public School District first and foremost.”
According to the release, school officials are working with the BPD on the case.
“The District continues to encourage students and others to inform school administrators or the local police of any rumors of any potential act to harm students or staff. The District will make every effort to fully investigate and take every precaution to make the Bartlesville Public School District a safe environment for everyone,” the release states.
Parents of BPSD students and district employees were notified of a possible incident via email just before noon on Friday: “In an effort to communicate with you, we would like to make you aware that we had a potential incident yesterday at Bartlesville High School which we investigated thoroughly. The information acquired was forwarded to the Bartlesville Police Department and was dealt with in an appropriate manner. Due to (confidentiality) restrictions, no further information will be released at this time. Please know that the safety of our students and staff is always of our utmost concern.”