An 18-year-old Silver Creek High School senior accused of using a school computer to access websites on making homemade bombs has been charged with having a weapon in his possession when he was arrested at the school by Hailey police on April 4.
According to a Hailey police report, an “unused red flare” was found in Colton Emery Turner’s backpack when he was searched prior to being arrested. Hailey Police Chief Jeff Gunter said the flare, which burns at extremely high temperatures, can be legally considered a deadly weapon.
“There’s no reason to take something like that into school in a backpack,” Gunter said. “A flare could be used as a weapon to severely burn or even kill someone. Coupled with the fact of what he was looking up on the Internet, we decided he could have used it a weapon.”
A probable-cause affidavit filed by Hailey Lt. Steve England alleges that Turner was also attempting to access websites using entries such as “how to blow up a school,” “Wood River High School blueprints,” “best murdering guns,” “what gun is best to kill groups of people,” “how to make pipe bombs” and “how to break into a security system.” The entries also indicate that Turner was trying to find the home address of Silver Creek Principal Mike Glenn.
Hailey police were called to the school when Glenn became aware of the computer entries on April 4. The incident led to Silver Creek and nearby Wood River high schools going into “code red” alert while Turner was being subdued and placed under arrest. Under a code red alert, the buildings are locked down and students are not allowed to leave.
Turner remained incarcerated Thursday in the Blaine County jail on $250,000 bond. He has been charged with the misdemeanor crimes of “possessing weapons or firearms on school property,” possession of a controlled substance and possession of drug paraphernalia.
England wrote in his report that while investigating the computer entries, he became concerned by the “disturbing and alarming documentation” discovered. He wrote that he immediately drove to the school, calling for backup before he even arrived.
England stated that he saw Turner walking from the front door of the high school across a road to the nearby Community Campus. He ordered Turner to stop, but when he didn’t, he pulled his service revolver and pointed it toward Turner.
The report states that Turner then got onto the ground but had to be subdued when he tried to get up. England wrote that he held Turner down with his foot until other officers arrived.
England wrote that the flare, the illegal substance spice and a glass pipe were found in Turner’s backpack after he had been placed in handcuffs.
Neither the Hailey Police Department nor the Blaine County School District initially informed the public that Turner allegedly had a weapon with him at school on the day of his arrest. Gunter said Thursday that police weren’t initially sure and had to research state and federal law before a determination could be made that the flare could be classified as a weapon.
District Communications Director Heather Crocker issued the following written statement to the Idaho Mountain Express on Thursday:
“Our first concern was that the student was removed from school and that our students and staff are safe from a student’s possible intentions. The information you are referring to wasn’t readily available when we were letting parents, staff and the media know about the lock-down, which was immediately after it happened.”
Hailey Assistant Police Chief Dave Stellers said police did not search Turner’s home because none of the charges against him are related to his home. However, he said the case is still under investigation.
Terry Smith: firstname.lastname@example.org