A janitor at an Oregon high school was prepared to gun down students and teachers at the school where he worked and made detailed plans for the shooting spree, local police said Thursday.
Thankfully, he turned himself in first, repentant. Kristopher Clay, the 24-year-old janitor for South Medford High School, surrendered to the Medford police department on July 20, allegedly confessing to officers he had “homicidal thoughts.” He remained in police custody until he was formally arrested Wednesday.
“Why he turned himself in is the million dollar question. I believe that he did a lot of planning and a lot of sinister thoughts, but he had that moment where he wanted help,” Medford police Lt. Mike Budreau told The Daily Beast. “Thank goodness that happened. Had he not turned himself in, I don’t think we would have figured this one out before it happened.”
Budreau said Clay had mentioned his plans and his homicidal intentions to other people who did not take him seriously and did not report him to the authorities.
“There was no specific motive other than mass casualty,” Budreau said. “We don’t believe it was some kind of grind with the school that led him to want to carry out a mass shooting. We believe this individual had these ideations well before to being employed there. They’re not recent.”
Clay began working at South Medford High in February, according to Medford School District communications director Natalie Hurd. Like Budreau, she said that the school had no indication of Clay’s plans. He had not displayed resentment towards the school or “behavioral red flags” that would have initiated an investigation, and his initial background check had cleared, she said.
“We’re fortunate that he had a moment of clarity where he turned himself in,” Hurd said.
Following the initial interrogation and investigation into Clay, police executed search warrants at his home. There, officers found guns, ammunition, tactical gear, and “written material” that made clear what Clay planned to do, Budreau said. The would-be shooter had a specific date in mind for the attack and wrote about targeting other locations in addition to the school, though Budreau did not specify when or where. Police do not believe Clay acted with any accomplices.
A court’s previous determination of mental illness barred Clay from legally obtaining guns. He told officers he bought gun parts online and whole firearms via his in-person social circle, Budreau said.
Police swept the school and determined there were no imminent threats to students and faculty, nor did Clay stash weapons there, Hurd said. Clay resigned while he was in custody.
Clay is charged with attempted murder, first-degree attempted assault, attempted unlawful use of a weapon, tampering with evidence, and felony disorderly conduct.