Police had a decision to make when they learned Wednesday afternoon that a man who had recently been in Baker City told an acquaintance that he “might go shoot up a school” without mentioning any specific building.
Police made the right decision.
We were gratified by how quickly police from multiple agencies worked with officials from schools across Baker County and in North Powder to protect students from the potential threat.
Following a recommendation from police, schools locked their doors while continuing classes as usual. Officers from the Baker City Police Department, Baker County Sheriff’s Office and Oregon State Police dispersed to schools to provide security until all students had boarded buses or been released to their parents or guardians. Some middle school and high school students were allowed to walk home.
Meanwhile, police were able to trace the threat to Ian Michael Cooper, 21. About 5:20 p.m. Wednesday police confirmed that Cooper was not in Baker City but was in Graham, Washington, east of Olympia.
According to Baker City Police, Cooper, when interviewed by police in Washington, admitted making the threat, claiming it was a “stupid comment.”
Indeed it was.
It also strikes us a criminal comment, and we hope prosecutors can make a case against Cooper on whatever the most appropriate charge is.
We’re pleased, of course, that the threat turned out to be an empty one.
But the most significant thing we learned from this unfortunate episode is that Baker City Police and other local enforcement agencies are well-prepared to deal with situations that none of us wants to believe will ever happen here.
Police, of course, have to assume the worst-case scenario is possible. We thank them for their diligence and professionalism.
From the Baker City Herald editorial board. The board consists of editor Jayson Jacoby and reporter Chris Collins.