Washington High School Math Teacher Arrested After Threatening to Shoot Students: 'That's a Bad Example'

A high school math teacher was arrested in Washington yesterday after being accused of threatening to shoot students, the local sheriff's office says.

The suspect has been identified as a 58-year-old female educator working at Emerald Ridge High School in South Hill, Puyallup. The Pierce County Sheriff's Department said on social media that it was notified about the alleged verbal threat at approximately 6 p.m. Tuesday.

A caseworker alleged the woman threatened to shoot students during a phone call. The teacher was placed on leave after police notified the school district.

Ed Troyer, spokesperson for the sheriff's office, told the Tacoma News Tribune newspaper that deputies had questioned the suspect yesterday at a home she shares with her husband. Troyer said she had been detained because she "didn't back down from the threats."

Investigators have not confirmed what sparked her comments, but the paper reported the teacher did not reference any particular student by name. No weapons were found at the woman's home. KIRO7 reported the threats had been made off-campus.

"Our school resource deputy assigned to Emerald Ridge High School contacted the suspect at her residence. The teacher repeated the threat to the deputy and was placed under arrest. She has been booked into the Pierce County Jail for Threats to Injure," the sheriff's office said.

The teacher, who reportedly has no criminal record, was named as Julie Hillend-Jones by local media outlet KOMO. Newsweek confirmed the charge using jail inmate records and verified the suspect's workplace using a LinkedIn profile still public at the time of publication.

A statement from the Puyallup School District (via King5) said: "The Pierce County Sheriff's Department is conducting an investigation of an Emerald Ridge High School staff member who made threats against students during a conversation off-campus on Tuesday. The normal protocol for threats was followed including immediate notification of law enforcement.

"The staff member was not at school today and has been placed on administrative leave. Making threats against the safety of students and staff is a felony crime and taken very seriously."

Troyer said deputies had to take the threats seriously. "If a kid makes those kind of statements, they end up going to jail, and they have to pay the price for it," he told KOMO. "If a teacher makes them, that's a bad example and they have to be held accountable just as well.

"We don't know what led up to it, obviously there's something. Whether she was actually going to carry it through doesn't really matter. Everybody knows in today's world you don't do that."

Emerald Ridge High School student Raul Garibaldo told KCPQ he was shocked by the news. "She's normally a really nice teacher," he said."It's really traumatizing because it's a teacher I grew up with, during my lunch breaks I would go there and just talk. She was really helpful."

The investigation continues.

Flashing police lights
File photo: Flashing police lights. A high school math teacher was arrested in Washington yesterday morning after being accused of threatening to shoot students, the local sheriff’s office says. iStock