State lawmakers look to make school threats felonies

MEDFORD, Ore.– In the two weeks since the Parkland school shooting, schools across Oregon have seen an increase of school threats.

In Southern Oregon, multiple school threats have been made over the last year.

At Cascade Christian High School in Medford, School Resource Officer Ray Cuellar says a threat is no laughing matter. Especially after seeing the problems they can cause.

“The area where I used to live in and law enforcement at, we literally – after one of the shootings – took all our patrol resources and placed them in every school that we had the following day,” said Cuellar.

Now, the Oregon State Senate is considering a bill that would address this issue.

One lawmaker, Senator Tim Knopp, proposed an amendment to Senate Bill 1543 to make it a felony to even threaten to commit a mass casualty event.

The amendment was proposed on Monday after an urging from schools in the Bend-area, who saw a rise in school threats after the Parkland shooting.

A work session on the bill was held today and will soon move to the House for a vote.

If passed, the amendment would criminalize such threats, whether the person had the intent to carry it out or not.

“When it comes down to kids, it’s the hardest part, is losing young lives,” said Cuellar. “If you think it’s funny to make a prank phone call or send a text message or anything like that. None of that is funny. All of this is taken very seriously.”

As a retired police officer and present security officer for the high school, Cuellar agrees with the recently proposed amendment.

“Legislature’s looking at all of the avenues, they can change a lot of different things,” he said. “I think it’s a good idea, sometimes juveniles don’t understand how devastating those calls can be.”

For young adults that could be potentially caught in the future, there could be serious consequences.

“Depending on the age, you could be tried as an adult and convicted of that,” said Cuellar. “Basically, it would be hard to get a job later on.”

But Cuellar hopes it never gets to that point.

“Things I like to do is interact with the kids. They know me as Mr. Ray,” he said chuckling. “Typically, I’ll sit down, talk to them, listen to them and there’s times where we even pray together.”

It’s that interaction Cuellar enjoys the most. He hopes spending time with students helps keeps them out of trouble.

“I think the interaction with the kids,” said Cuellar, when asked why he loves his job. “I interact with the parents also and the staff but I think the interaction with the kids, to me, that just makes my day.”


© 2024 KOBI-TV NBC5. All rights reserved unless otherwise stated.

Skip to content