Police, school leaders prepare for students to return to West Albany HS

Police, school leaders prepare for students to return to West Albany HS »Play Video
West Albany High School (KATU photo)

ALBANY, Ore. – Police and school leaders are preparing for students to return to West Albany High School for the first time since a student was arrested for allegedly planning to attack the school with bombs.

Grant Acord, 17, was arrested last week after someone tipped off police about a possible plan to bomb the school.

At a news conference on Monday, Albany police said they will assign all of their school resource officers to West Albany High School on Tuesday. They’ll meet with the school staff and prepare them to talk with students about what police did to make the school safe, said Sgt. Alan Lynn.

Principal Susie Orsborn will also meet with every student at the school in several assemblies.

“The biggest goal is to have the school resource officers there available for parents, students and staff,” said Lynn.

“This has been a very trying time for the community, for the Albany police department,” said Capt. Eric Carter. “In a span of 24 hours we went from receiving a report of a 17-year-old man allegedly intending to detonate a bomb in a school, to a successful arrest and seizure of evidence crucial in the case against Grant Acord.”

Police officers will be patrolling the school and have a “very visible presence” throughout the day, Lynn said.

“The biggest thing that we will talk to the students about is being vigilant,” said Lynn.

Carter said police searched West Albany High School with four bomb-detecting K-9s on Friday. No explosives were found in the school.

Police also publicly thanked the person who called in the tip last week. They said that person wanted to remain private. Students told KATU they don't know who tipped off police, but they consider that person a hero.

Acord will face charges of attempted aggravated murder, manufacture and possession of a destructive device and possession of a deadly weapon with intent to use against another person. He will be charged as an adult, the Benton County District Attorney said. He is scheduled to appear in court Tuesday afternoon.

KATU normally does not name minors who are accused of crimes, but we named Acord in this case because of the severity of the crimes and because he will be charged as an adult.

“I have been advised that none of the evidence developed thus far suggests any broader conspiracy or involvement by any other persons,” Maria Delapoer, the superintendent of Albany schools, said in a statement to parents on Sunday. "The bottom line is that the school is safe and that students can return to school on Tuesday confident that no outstanding threats remain.”

Acord was taken into custody on Thursday at his mother’s Albany home.

In a news conference on Saturday, Haroldson said Acord’s attack plan was patterned after the shooting at Columbine High School in 1999 that left 13 people dead and 21 others wounded. Police found pipe bombs, Molotov cocktails, napalm bombs and explosives made from drain cleaner in a secret compartment under the floor of Acord’s bedroom at his mother’s house, Haroldson said. They also found checklists and a diagram of the school.

“We’re very thankful as an agency and as a community that this tragedy was averted,” said Carter. “We have no doubt from looking at the information that we’ve received that this would have led to a very tragic series of events sometime in the future.”

Mother of boy releases statement

On Monday afternoon, Acord's mother, Marianne Fox, released a statement through her attorney, Alan Lanker.

"My heart goes out to everyone affected by Grant's struggle with PANDAS, a rare form of OCD.  I grieve for my son, but understand and support the efforts of law enforcement to keep our beloved community safe," she said. "This is a challenging and confusing time for everyone who knows Grant.  I will have no further comment while I wait with the rest of you to see what unfolds."

PANDAS, or Pediatric Autoimmune Neuropsychiatric Disorder Associated with Streptococcus, is caused from the immune system's reaction to strep, according to the International OCD Foundation.