Tualatin middle school gets bomb threat after viral video of student attack
TUALATIN Ore. (KPTV) - Following a viral video appearing to show a student attacking another student, Hazelbrook Middle School in Tualatin closed early Friday due to a bomb threat, according to the Tigard-Tualatin School District.
Sue Rieke-Smith, superintendent of the Tigard-Tualatin School District, said that around mid-morning, Hazelbrook received an email with a credible bomb threat to the campus.
“We have been fielding multiple threats on social media, email and voicemail for the last couple of days,” Rieke-Smith said. “And so the threat today, however, was specific in terms of time and place.”
The district made the decision to end the school day and evacuate students so law enforcement could investigate.
Rieke-Smith said this threat and others made toward the district over recent days was connected to a viral video on social media. In it, a student appears to pull another student to the ground, then repeatedly punch the student in the face and pull their hair. The video has gained traction in conservative media due to rumors that the attacker is a transgender child.
“I’m a woman of faith, as is my husband, a man of faith, you know, and we believe that, you know, the Good Lord has us in the palm of his hands,” Rieke-Smith said. “So this is really righteous anger about [the threats] keeping us from doing what we do very well in this district, which is serving kids.”
Rieke-Smith said the viral video is part of a larger nationwide social media trend among teenagers.
“These are minors,” Rieke-Smith said. “Not only the originator and the victim, but children who are in the hall and all of their identities have been compromised, and in no permission was given. Yet in the age of social media, we think we can post them everywhere and have no sense of responsibility on the impacts on those children.”
At about 5:30 p.m. Friday, the school district and local law enforcement announced that the student appearing to attack the other student in the video has been arrested and charged.
In a statement released by the school district on Thursday about the alleged attack, the school said they were investigating the incident along with local law enforcement, and would not release any details about the involved children or their gender identities.
“Students and adults contributed to the sharing of this recording that exposed minors who were directly and indirectly involved without consent. In addition, the sharing of this incident has spread across the country and beyond, inspiring false information and a focus and discourse on sexual identity,” the district wrote. “These acts have contributed to the trauma individuals and families are already experiencing.”
Rieke-Smith said their main focus will be supporting the mental health of the victim.
“The victim in this situation or any situation where they’re a target of hate speech or physical violence, that we also wrap, you know, in extensive counseling support, both in-school and external for the student.”
The Washington County Juvenile Department also released a statement earlier Friday about the investigation into the alleged attack:
“A petition has been filed with the Juvenile Court and the charges are pending. In light of Oregon records law pertaining to juveniles, we are not able to comment further regarding this particular youth. The Washington County Juvenile Department remains committed to enhancing community safety and breaking the cycle of delinquency through effective evidence-based intervention practices and holding youth accountable for their behavior.”
This is a developing story that will be updated as more information becomes available.
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