By Paul Daquilante • Staff Writer • 

Trial starts for teen accused of Newberg High threat


A trial started today for Jacob Hill, the 17-year-old Newberg High School student who allegedly detailed plans in his journal to personally kill at least 100 people at the school.

Eighteen witnesses testified during the first day of proceedings in Courtroom 4 of the Yamhill County Courthouse.  Yamhill County Circuit Court Judge John Collins is presiding.

"There are issues that need to be raised," said Collins, who apologized to witnesses who were scheduled to testify Tuesday, the original start date. "These things happen."

Deputy District Attorney Michael Videtich, who is prosecuting the case, told Collins the state is ready to proceed, and he's prepared to call a "large number" of witnesses.

McMinnville attorney Paula Lawrence, who is representing Hill, told the court she subpoenaed discovery (evidence) related to juveniles on the prosecution's witness list. Senior Assistant County Counsel Todd Sadlow said there are some records the state does not want to provide the defense. Collins will rule on the matter.

Hill has been lodged in the county's Juvenile Detention Facility on two counts of attempted first-degree assault and one count of attempted unlawful use of a weapon since his March arrest.

According to a probable cause affidavit written by Capt. Chris Bolek of the Newberg-Dundee police, Hill said he was coming under the grip of a “growing obsession” to launch a bomb and gun attack on the campus and maximize casualties.

Responding to a threat of violence at the school, police launched an investigation that led them to take Hill and another juvenile into custody, initially for violating terms of probation related to previous cases.

Police learned March 3 that Hill intended to launch an assault at the school, harming named and unnamed staff and students in the process. They learned he had described his plans and identified about 20 prospective victims in his journal.

Accompanied by officer Heather Fults, Bolek located the journal in Hill’s bedroom and reviewed the contents. In addition to a planned victim’s list, it included a crude but detailed handwritten map, identifying locations where he planned to place bombs.

Hill indicated he meant, as a first step, to “take out” School Resource Officer Shawn Moreland. He indicated he planned to chain the school gates shut and isolate intended victims in a “kill zone.”

According to the affidavit, Hill was joined by three other individuals in developing the outlines at a meeting held at Friends Community Cemetery, 500 S. Everest Road, the morning of Feb. 24. Hill brought the journal and one of the other individuals recorded the plan.

Hill added a list what he would need for “shooting up the school,” including bombs, chains, knives, locks, masks and “lots of ammo.”

He followed up by attempting to gain access to his mother’s gun safe, and by reaching out to others in an attempt to obtain weapons.

Bolek said Hill initially planned to carry out his attack on June 17, the last day of the 2015-16 school year. However, he decided to move it up because he feared attendance would be light that final day. He decided to spring his assault within 70 days, which would put it in early May, to insure maximum attendance.

Investigators interviewed about 30 students, counselors and teachers in the course of their investigation. One of the students whose name appeared on Hill’s hit list told them there is no doubt Hill was capable of carrying out such an act.

The school district released a statement saying the police assured staff and students the high school campus would be kept safe when school opened March 4, the day after the threat was discovered.

There was an increased law enforcement presence on and around campus to ensure that would be the case.