Students face charges for gunfire in Tacoma high school

TACOMA, Wash. – Two teenagers faced judges Tuesday afternoon in connection to a shooting at Tacoma’s Oakland High School.

Nobody was injured during the incident but the crime highlights the serious and dangerous realities facing kids across our country.

Shootings and threats have forced school closures and lockdowns in Western Washington multiple times in the past several days.

One of the two suspects in the Oakland incident is 18 and facing two felonies because of his alleged involvement.

Prosecutors say even though nobody was hurt, it’s important to make sure everyone involved face consequences.

Dontae Bell, 18, entered court without any criminal history but he’s alleged to have brought the gun to the campus that caused so much chaos at the high school on Monday.

“Our deputy prosecutor recommended $100,000 bail because of the potential danger to the community,” said Pierce County Prosecutor Mark Lindquist.

A 17-year-old student also faces serious charges for his role – police say that student accidentally fired the gun inside a boy’s bathroom at the school.

The bullet narrowly missed another student and the gunfire sent police scrambling and sent the school into lockdown.

“There is nothing more important than protecting our children,” said Lindquist. “We want our schools to be safe especially in this environment, people need to be vigilant. If you see something, say something.”

On Monday, several more Pierce County teenage students faced a judge for their alleged role in online threats of violence that caused chaos and fear at two more South Sound schools.

That’s why prosecutors build the cases they can to hold students accountable when they cause serious disruptions.   

“Districts are saying we can invest on preventative things, but the Legislature has to step up to help,” said state Schools Superintendent Chris Reykdal.

Reykdal says a number of kids across Washington sometimes suffer from mental health problems, which can be a contributing factor to some threats – but he insists arming public school teachers is not a smart way to solve the problem.

“There’s no evidence we can find anywhere in the literature that says arming teachers is an effective deterrent or an effective intervention,” he said.

A judge released Bell from jail and instructed him to stay away from firearms. Prosecutors say Bell was spared an additional felony charge because investigators determined the shooting was an accident.