HEBER CITY — A 14-year-old student was arrested after police say he brought a hit list to school.
But Heber City Police Chief Dave Booth said Friday that the real story is that an alert teacher recognized a potential problem with the student and notified authorities before anyone was harmed.
"This is how the system is supposed to work," Booth said. "The frustrating thing for us is society always comes in after a big incident. 'Oh we saw it,' or 'Oh, we thought he was acting odd.' Hopefully society is finally getting the idea that when you see something odd, how about you open your mouth and talk about it instead of just sitting there sitting on it."
The Rocky Mountain Middle School student was arrested Wednesday. Booth said a teacher who had taught the student in a class all year noticed that his behavior on that day was odd.
"He wasn't acting normal. He was acting very strange and very aloof and withdrawn and seemed to be upset about something. And he had the list with him and kept crumbling it up and kind of passing it back and forth between his hands," Booth said.
The teacher pulled the student aside, and after several minutes of talking, the student surrendered a list he had drawn up that day of people whom he wanted to harm.
"It was 'the kill list.' It actually had the word 'kill' in it," the chief said. "It said, 'The Kill List' or 'My Kill List' or something like that, and a note above it describing how he wanted to follow through with these acts."
The teen intended to stab his victims, according to Booth. The list originally contained eight names, but two of them were crossed out. Because of that, the boy was taken to juvenile detention for investigation of six counts of harassment and six counts of making threats against life or property, all misdemeanors.
The boy was released from juvenile detention on Friday and a judge ordered him to be placed on house arrest. He was ordered not to leave his parents' sight until the issue is adjudicated.
Booth said the student claimed he was a victim of bullying.
"He feels he was being bullied. But we feel there was mutual bullying going on. The kid has been bullied, but he also has been the bullier, too."
Investigators did not find any weapon in his possession.
"He didn't have a knife on him at all. Obviously, he has access to a knife, I mean, everybody does," Booth said.
But whether the list was made out of anger and amounted to nothing but idle threats, or whether he actually intended to carry out his plan is something the school district said doesn't matter.
"In light of the times we live in, we don't really make those distinctions much anymore. Anytime there is a physical threat to another student, we're going to take it seriously and then kind of let the police sort out the nature and the severity and let them take it form there. From a school district perspective, we want to make sure we're proactive," said Wasatch School District spokesman Jason Watt.
The parents of the students on the list have been contacted, Watt said. The teen was suspended from school until the case is completed in court, he said.
Friday, Booth had high praise for the teacher.
"It was the perfect way this was supposed to work. The teacher did a great job. I can't say enough good about him."