Students return to increased police presence at West Albany HS

Students return to increased police presence at West Albany HS
Students head back to class at West Albany High School Tuesday morning. (KATU photo)

ALBANY, Ore. – Students and staff returned to West Albany High School Tuesday morning for the first time since a student was arrested for allegedly planning to bomb the school.

Grant Acord, 17, was arrested last week after someone called police about a possible plan to attack the school. 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, according to Benton County District Attorney John Haroldson. They also found checklists and a diagram of the school.

West Albany High School students told KATU that Tuesday will be an emotional day. Some said they were nervous to return.

Many said they were thankful for the person who tipped off police about Acord’s alleged plan.

“I want to say thank you,” said student Sarah Young. “Without them, like they said, we might not have been here for our school tomorrow or to tell our family we love them.”

“Going through the doors, I’ll think how blessed I am someone said something,” said student Tyler Klein.

Albany police on Monday publicly thanked the anonymous tipster, whom they said wanted to remain private.

“If it wasn’t for them, we wouldn’t be able to go home to our families,” said Klein. “It’s a really tragic event and I’m really thankful for that person who stepped up and said something.”

One student told KATU her mother didn’t want her to go back to school on Tuesday until she heard about the planned police presence.

Police to be 'very visible' on campus

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 planned to 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.

Police officers will be patrolling the school and have a “very visible presence” throughout the day, Lynn said. They’ll stress to students the importance of being vigilant.

Student accused of planning Columbine-style attack

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 searched West Albany High School on Thursday, and again with four bomb-detecting K-9s on Friday. No explosives were found in the school.

Acord (right) is scheduled to appear in court Tuesday afternoon. He faces charges including 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.

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.

Acord suffers from rare form of OCD, mother says

On Monday, 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 Obsessive-compulsive Disorder. 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.

KATU's Dan Cassuto and Melanie Wingo contributed to this story.