Student arrested for gun on campus

An 18-year-old student was arrested last week after he brought a loaded .38-caliber revolver to Central Medford High School on South Oakdale Avenue.

Jacob Semion Davis of Medford was charged with felony possession of a firearm in a public building and misdemeanor possession of a firearm and could face a maximum of six years in prison under sentencing guidelines. A preliminary hearing on the charges is set for today.

Davis allegedly showed the stolen black Charter Arms revolver to other students in an attempt to sell it, said Medford police Lt. Bob Hansen. He didn't threaten any students or teachers with the weapon, Hansen said. "As far as we could tell, there was no intention to hurt anyone," he said.

A student reported Davis to a school staff member, and Principal Guy Tutland reported the incident to police. A campus school resource officer, along with backup, responded to the report at about 1:30 p.m. Wednesday and arrested Davis from a weight-lifting class. A school lockdown wasn't necessary, as the gun was inside a backpack that was separated from Davis at the time officers were called.

"A tragedy may have been prevented, and the student who reported this did the right thing by knowing when someone really crossed the line and was willing to report it," Medford Police Chief Randy Schoen wrote in an internal city newsletter.

The campus hosts Central, a Medford School District alternative high school of more than 200 pupils, and two small programs for students with disabilities, called STEPS and STEPS Plus and operated by the Southern Oregon Education Service District.

Some parents were concerned that school officials hadn't notified them of the incident.

"Oh, my god," said Tracy Dillard, mother of a 12-year-old STEPS Plus student. "My heart is sinking right now."

Medford schools Superintendent Phil Long informed Medford School Board members and Southern Oregon ESD officials of the event the day it happened. But he chose not to tell parents because the incident was quickly resolved.

"Generally, we notify parents if we have an incident with an imminent threat and do a lockdown of a school. In this case, we did not have to do that."

Some School Board members said they disagreed with Long's decision.

"There should have been something sent home the next day," said School Board Member Jeff Thomas. "I think the board failed in not making sure that happened."

Dziura concurred.

"My feeling is when you've reached a level that's potentially dangerous, it should be reported to parents and the community," Dziura said.

A decision to locate the STEPS program at Central this fall was opposed by some students' parents in part because of worries that more troubled alternative students might pose a risk to the pupils with disabilities.

Not all of Central's students have a history of disciplinary, emotional, drug or alcohol problems. Some students attend because they are behind in school or simply prefer the smaller class sizes and accommodations for different learning styles.

Nevertheless, Wednesday's incident raised concerns, Dillard said.

Scott Perry, ESD superintendent, said gun incidents can happen at any school. He said he still believes Central is a good location for the STEPS programs.

"Frankly, I have been impressed with the students and the amount of security at the school with a school resource officer and a campus monitor," Perry said.

He said all of the ESD classes have safety protocols in the event of an emergency, but in this case, the situation was resolved before STEPS staff members found out it had occurred.

Wednesday was Davis' first day of school at Central. Hansen said he didn't know which school Davis had attended previously, but apparently, he had some problems that prompted his transfer to Central. He doesn't appear to have a permanent home and stayed with a variety of friends, Hansen said.

Reach reporter Paris Achen at 541-776-4459 or e-mail pachen@mailtribune.com.

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