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Oregon suspect in alleged high school bomb plot said to have illness

May 28, 2013|By Michael Muskal

A 17-year-old suspect accused of planning an attack on an Oregon high school suffers from a rare form of obsessive-compulsive disorder, his mother said, as officials prepared Tuesday to arraign the student.

Grant Alan Acord, 17, is scheduled to be arraigned in Benton County Circuit Court on one count of aggravated attempted murder, six counts each of manufacturing a destructive device, and related charges, and is to be tried as an adult. He was arrested Thursday at his mother’s home in Albany, Ore., where police have said they seized numerous explosives from a hidden floor compartment in his bedroom.

Benton County Dist. Atty, John Haroldson said in an interview with the Associated Press on Saturday that the alleged plot was “forged and inspired” by the 1999 massacre at Columbine High School in Colorado. He said investigators found six bombs in a secret compartment under the floorboards of Acord's bedroom, along with written plans, checklists and a diagram of the school.

Acord’s classmates have told reporters that the 17-year-old discussed bomb-making in the weeks before his arrest, but did not speak of any intent to inflict damage.

Thomas Stone, who attends West Albany High School, told KATU-TV that Grant Acord discussed bomb-making materials with him in class a couple of weeks ago.

“You know, I didn't think much of it 'cause he's kind of a strange kid,” Stone said. “So I wasn't surprised he had some strange hobbies, you know?”

Early Tuesday, Acord's mother, Marianne Fox, released a statement through her attorney to CNN saying her son suffers from a rare form of obsessive-compulsive disorder, known as PANDAS, an acronym for pediatric autoimmune neuropsychiatric disorder associated with streptococcus.

“My heart goes out to everyone affected by Grant's struggle with PANDAS, a rare form of OCD,” Fox said.

“I grieve for my son, but understand and support the efforts of law enforcement to keep our beloved community safe,” she added. “This is a challenging and confusing time for everyone who knows Grant. I will have no further comment while I wait with the rest of you to see what unfolds.”

Capt. Eric Carter of the Albany Police Department told The Albany Democrat-Herald that police officers were to be present when classes resumed Tuesday morning at Memorial Middle and Liberty Elementary as well as West; the three schools share a common property.

“We understand maybe there’s some anxiety among parents and students that we want to help alleviate,” the captain said.

Student Keagan Boggs told the television station that Acord had approached some of his friends to talk about bombs, though not the alleged plot.

"It wasn't like, 'Oh, I'm making bombs. I'm gonna blow stuff up,'" Boggs said.

No bombs were found during searches of the school.

"I have been advised that none of the evidence developed thus far suggests any broader conspiracy or involvement by any other persons," Maria Delapoer, the superintendent of Albany schools, said in a statement to parents. "The bottom line is that the school is safe and that students can return to school on Tuesday confident that no outstanding threats remain."

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