ALBANY, Ore. – When Truman Templeton didn't want to go to a school assembly, his mother knew something was wrong.
She questioned the 17-year-old why he was nervous to go to school. That's when the alarming story came out.
Templeton told his mother that one of his classmates, Grant Acord, had started talking about making bombs and brought detailed diagrams to school.
Acord – who was in Templeton's circle of friends -- had brought a bomb-making book and a copy of The Anarchist Cookbook to school, he said.
“You never know if they're being funny or trying to sound macho or being serious,” the 17-year-old West Albany High School student said.
Templeton, the tipster to an alleged planned bombing at West Albany High School, now knows not coming forward could have resulted in a far different outcome.
He has received overwhelming praise from classmates and the community for alerting police. Templeton came public with his story for the first time Tuesday in an exclusive interview with KATU News.
The teen said Acord bragged he could make bombs and Templeton's suspicions had been heightened in the past few months. He said another friend actually saw a bomb or bomb components at Grant's house.
Templeton said it was his conscience that compelled him to speak up.
"It's always worth it. I'd much rather report something like this than leave it alone,” he said. "All I can say is what story would you want to see on the news? One person being arrested or dozens of kids dying because of a disaster that could have been prevented.”
Albany police launched their investigation after Templeton’s mother told a law enforcement friend, who ultimately alerted police.
Officers said they found two pipe bombs, two Molotov cocktails and two explosives made from drain cleaner in a secret compartment in Acord’s room and arrested him. He stands accused of first-degree aggravated attempted murder among other charges.
Templeton said he no longer felt safe at school, which prompted him to tell his mother.
“The tipping point for me when I was just worried about being in school,” Templeton said. “OK, school is supposed to be a safe and secure environment. I should not have to worry about this kind of stuff."
He didn’t know what police would find, if anything, once they searched Acord’s home.
“When I saw video of bomb squads and people in hazmat suits putting evidence in these bags and dumping chemicals, I realized this was a serious operation,” he said. “If I hadn't come forward with the information I had, this could have been a lot worse.”
Templeton said he decided to reveal his identity as the tipster after the enormously positive response he saw on social media and in news coverage.
“People want to know who I am,” he said.
He hopes other students will take this as a lesson to always report something, even when it may not seem like the popular – or comfortable – thing to do.
“It's pretty overwhelming. My hope is people will follow my lead, be more open about this stuff -- report it sooner,” he said.
Templeton's classmates and members of the community sent him many messages of support and thanks via Twitter. A few of them are posted below:
The students at WAHS can't thank you enough, Truman. You are an angel sent from God himself in heaven. #WAstrong #WAfamily #HonorTruman
— Peyton Zeigler (@petiezeigler) May 28, 2013
Truman, I believe we are all eternally grateful for you. Thank you does not work good enough, but it will do for now.#wastrong— Gracie Overholser (@Benevoson) May 28, 2013
As a school, we NEED to do something for Truman. He is such an amazing person and will forever be a hero in my eyes #WAstrong— mckenna moe (@KennaMoe) May 28, 2013
Thank you Truman! You're our hero. #WAstrong ����������— Valentina Moore (@valentina977) May 28, 2013