Albany police say school safe, send extra officers there
The mother of a youth accused of planning to bomb West Albany High School issued a statement Monday through her lawyer, saying the boy has struggled with a rare form of Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder.
Also Monday, an Albany Police Department spokesman said three resource officers will be on hand today to meet with students, staff and parents at the school, as students return from four days off.
Attorney Alan S. Lanker of Corvallis contacted the Corvallis Gazette-Times with the statement, saying he was representing only Marianne Fox and not her accused son, Grant Alan Acord, a 17-year-old junior at West.
Lanker said the boy primarily lived with his mother in North Albany.
In her statement, Fox said:
“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.
“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 is an acronym for Pediatric Autoimmune Neuropsychiatric Disorders Associated with Streptococcal Infections.
In Monday’s press briefing, Sgt. Alan Lynn said that seven to nine patrol officers will also provide an extra presence throughout the day at all 23 schools in the Great Albany district.
Acord is being held at the Linn Benton Juvenile Facility and is scheduled to be arraigned today in Benton County Circuit Court.
He has been charged with one count of aggravated attempted murder and six counts each of manufacturing a destructive device, possession of a destructive device and possession of a weapon with intent to use it against another person.
“We hope to mitigate the fears of students, staff and parents with an extra presence,” Lynn said. “The safety of the students and staff is a priority. We hope to reduce any anxieties out there.”
The student resource officers will meet with staff before school and then, along with Principal Susie Orsborn, address the 1,400 members of the student body. There will be one student resource officer at each high school and at Memorial Middle School.
“It’s important to emphasize that these things don’t occur in a vacuum,” Lynn said. “Someone had the courage to come forward.”
Lynn added that officers have learned that other students had heard “bits and pieces” about Acord’s plans.
“They thought it was odd, but they didn’t think they had enough information to call and report it,” Lynn said. “They overhead things or saw things on Facebook or Twitter.”
Lynn would not divulge any personal information about the person who made the initial report.
Lynn emphasized that the high school building is safe to occupy.
“Thursday night we found nothing visible and Friday, we had four bomb sniffing dog units go over every room and tunnel in the building,” Lynn said. “We also hand searched every outbuilding. We are confident that everything is safe.”
Lynn said his son is a student at West Albany and he will be in classes today.
“We plan to have our patrol teams provide extra security until the last day of the school year, which is June 12,” Lynn said. “We want to reassure parents their children are safe. All of my children will be in school.”
Alex Paul contributed to this story