Emergency vehicle lights
Walla Walla High School was closed today and a student is in custody after allegedly threatening to cause harm at Wa-Hi.
 
Officials said a 17-year-old boy from Dayton left a voice message on another student's cellphone Monday night that indicated there would be trouble at the school today, said Walla Walla County Undersheriff Joe Klundt. 
 
The call's recipient did not hear the message until this morning; he contacted officials just before 7 a.m., Walla Walla Public Schools spokesman Mark Higgins said.
 
When the Sheriff's Office was informed of the call, the caller's number was traced to a residence in Dayton and a suspect was identified, Klundt said.
 
By then the student from Dayton was already on the bus coming to Wa-Hi, he said.
 
Two deputies met the bus upon its arrival at the high school, and escorted two students into separate rooms, Klundt said, noting one student denied any knowledge of the issue and the Dayton student being questioned agreed no one else was involved in the threat.  
 
Klundt said he could not comment if any weapons were found.
"We're still trying to investigate this." 
 
District officials made the precautionary decision at about 7 a.m. to close Wa-Hi for the entire day to ensure the safety of staff and students, and to give investigators a clear path for their work, Higgins said. 
"We have to go into this situation with our eyes wide open. It could be a legitimate threat, we have to assume it is."
Although no one wants to see a school day lost, today's incident shows the district's safety awareness efforts are paying off, Higgins said, pointing out the teen who received the voice message.
"Our safety campaign, 'hear something, see something, say something' is working. I'm just so proud of this student for doing what we've asked them to do."
 
The student will be booked into Walla Walla County Juvenile Justice Center, Klundt said.
 
At press time district officials were working on decisions about after school activities; information will be made available at www.wwps.org.

Sheila Hagar can be reached at sheilahagar@wwub.com or 526-8322.

Sheila Hagar has written for the Walla Walla Union-Bulletin since 1998. Sheila covers education in the Walla Walla Valley. She also writes a column, Home Place, usually highlighting family life and slices of local life.