ELKO – Elko High School was closed Wednesday after a report of an anonymous threat was received the night before by local officials.
Superintendent Jeff Zander posted a statement on the Elko County School District website Feb. 21, informing the public of the threat and closure. He said the district was working with local law enforcement agencies “to determine the credibility of the report.”
“We’re currently working with law enforcement, and they’re investigating,” Zander said Wednesday morning. “Hopefully we’ll have resolution at the end of the day, and we’ll share that with the public.”
Police protection at other schools in the district was increased Wednesday and throughout the rest of the week because of the threat, said Zander, who also noted in his statement that “safety remains a top priority in our district.”
“The vigilance of our parents, students, staff and neighbors remains the very best safety measure we have,” Zander said.
Elko High School serves approximately 1,300 students.
The threat comes after two gun-related incidents at Elko High school in the current school year.
In October, 18-year-old Sammual R. Munk was arrested on two counts of possession of a dangerous weapon on Elko High School property, and as a minor in possession of an alcoholic beverage in public. A school resource officer found the guns while patrolling school property and noticing smoke billowing out the window of a pickup truck.
Munk’s preliminary hearing on the weapons charges was scheduled Wednesday morning in Elko Justice Court, but was continued until further notice.
Another 18-year-old, Alexander Zamora, allegedly threatened to kill a student near the school in November. Zamora is not a student but was described by Elko police as a friend of a student who was involved in a confrontation on the sidewalk outside the school.
Zamora reportedly pulled out a 9mm handgun and threatened to kill the other student before fleeing from the scene, police said.
“It occurred during the lunch hour on the sidewalk, and there were several witnesses,” Capt. Ty Trouten told the Elko Daily Free Press at the time.
Charges against Zamora were reduced Dec. 18 in Elko District Court from assault with a deadly weapon to carrying a concealed weapon.
Students in many districts across the nation have been staging walkouts or rallying for stricter gun legislation this week in the wake of a Valentine’s Day shooting at a school in Florida that killed 17 people.
A 19-year-old suspect has reportedly confessed to those killings.
ELKO – A vintage military aircraft that has competed at the Reno Air Races veered off the runway at Elko Regional Airport Wednesday morning and crashed into a fence.
The unusual plane was seen flying over Elko before the crash, which occurred around 10:15 a.m. under partly cloudy skies and calm weather conditions, with the temperature just below freezing.
Airport Manager Jim Foster said the lone occupant, pilot Robert McCormack, was taken to Northeastern Nevada Regional Hospital as a precaution, after complaining of lower back pain.
The aircraft appeared to be fully intact, although its nose was pressed into the chain link fence surrounding the runway.
Foster said he did not know why the plane veered off the runway, but the pilot reported having a “brake problem.” He was on his way to Utah and probably stopped in Elko for gas, Foster added.
The Soko G-2 Galeb is described as a two-seat jet trainer with a Rolls Royce engine. It was manufactured from the mid 1960s through the mid 1980s and used by the military in Yugoslavia and Libya, according to www.militaryfactory.com.
The plane has flown in competition under the name Wildest Dreams.
An article on the Warbirds of Delaware website describes how McCormack decided to “go for the gold” at the 2017 National Championship Air Races in Reno:
“Under severe time constraints, Bob raced to find and purchase one of the four Sokos remaining in the country, get his Soko type rating, and get the plane up and running for the first time in over ten years.”
He won the bronze and was bumped up to the gold race, but was disqualified, the group reported.
ELKO – A former Elko man charged with sexual assault of a child was placed on probation Wednesday in district court.
Sean R. Sandhoff, 41, was arrested Aug. 3 on eight charges that included luring a child through the use of a computer, lewdness with a child under 14 years of age, and unlawful contact with a minor.
In a plea agreement, Sandhoff pleaded guilty to two counts of sexual abuse of a child, a category B felony.
Sandhoff was given a suspended sentence by Elko District Judge Nancy Porter of 19 to 48 months in prison on each count to be served consecutively, an aggregate of 38 to 96 months in prison. He was then placed on probation for five years and ordered to register as a sex offender in the jurisdiction where he resides. Sandhoff now lives in Utah.
Court documents said the 12-year-old relative of Sandhoff told investigators she was contacted by him after she posted a comment on Facebook that expressed feeling self-conscious about her looks. The text messages went on to be more sexually explicit and were followed by inappropriate touching and conversations.
At the start of the sentencing hearing, Porter said the state division of parole and probation recommended the sentence be suspended and the defendant given probation based on a psychosexual evaluation that said Sandhoff was at “low risk to reoffend.”
Representing Sandhoff, attorney David Lockie reviewed the results of the evaluation before the court, which said the defendant took responsibility for his actions and was “forthright” about his crime.
“He understands the nature of what he’s done and he takes responsibility,” Lockie said, adding that Sandhoff was determined by the evaluators to have “no predatory component” and pointing back to the parole and probation’s recommendation to the court.
“The division took a hard look and made the recommendation” for probation, Lockie said.
The court also heard from three members of Sandhoff’s family, who testified that the defendant was “remorseful” about his behavior and described him as “honest and hard working.” They each said they believed Sandhoff would not pose a risk to the community if given probation.
Sandhoff gave his own statement, apologizing to the victim and the families involved for his actions.
“I wish there was something I could do to take it away,” Sandhoff said. “This is something I have to live with. There’s been a lot of children that have suffered in this … All I can say is I’m sorry.”
The victim read a prepared statement to the court and Sandhoff, saying that the ordeal made her “stronger” and asked that Sandhoff be sentenced to prison and “not be rewarded” for his “immature and disgusting” acts.
“I’d like to say what you did to me was a horrible thing,” the girl said. “I lost part of my childhood for what you did. I want to move on, put this behind me and not be a victim.”
“I don’t want him to do this to anyone else,” she said.
In recommending prison time, Deputy District Attorney Mark Mills said “the state is glad to see” Sandhoff is remorseful, noting the testimony from his family stating that the defendant had “some good attributes,” but argued that sexual predators come from all walks of life and do not look like a “common street criminal.”
“The greatest weight is the harm done to a 12-year-old girl and her family,” Mills said, and read from her parent’s statement that described the child suffering from anxiety, depression, trust issues and an eating disorder as a result of the incident.
Mills repeated the victim’s statement that “the sheer disgusting nature of this crime” was the reason to sentence Sandhoff to 19 to 48 months in prison to be served consecutively without probation.
Before handing down the sentence, Porter said she “considered everything I’ve read and heard,” including the impact the crime made on the victim and the argument from Mills that a person with good attributes could still have a deviant side.
Porter said that the psychosexual evaluation found Sandhoff to be at low risk to reoffend, that he was reported to be “without an agenda” and he did not try to gain the sympathy of the evaluator during the interview, restating the parole and probation division’s recommendation for probation.
“My sentence is not a reward,” Porter said, explaining that the Department of Justice states that sexual offenders are less likely to reoffend when treated within society. “He will suffer many consequences.”
ELKO — Claims of unfit drinking water by residents of Owyhee are spurring a request to the school district to supply clean water.
Jennifer Eisele and Tyson N. Manning, cite a report by the Environmental Defense Institute titled “Little Reason for Confidence in the Drinking Water on the Duck Valley Reservation” that explains samples of drinking water in 2015 and 2016 “show significantly elevated levels of lead, arsenic, barium, copper and fluoride.”
The February report recommends Duck Valley residents not to drink the water until “the levels are not only below federal maximum contaminant levels but are also not exceeding reasonable public health guidelines.”
The Environmental Defense Institute is an Idaho-based organization that focuses on nuclear issues.
In a letter to the Elko County School District, Eisele and Manning point to the report and ask that “the school district immediately supply clean drinking water to Owyhee Combined Schools for their consumption as the local drinking water is unfit.”
“It is your duty to protect our children while they are in your care,” wrote Eisele and Manning, who also said that in September they tried to raise awareness of the water supply’s contamination by nuclear waste development that posed “a large number of possible health consequences.”
“We encouraged the population to stop drinking the water immediately and to relocate, if at all possible,” Eisele and Manning wrote.
Superintendent Jeff Zander said the school district is investigating the report and requested a testing of the water for nuclear contamination.
“The health and safety of our students across the district are our No. 1 priority,” Zander said. “We have reached out to a local contractor to test the water at the school.”
“Hopefully, we’ll have the water samples back Friday,” Zander said, adding that he plans to talk to Shoshone-Paiute tribe officials and make a decision on what to do.
When asked about his expectations for the school district to respond, Manning said he understood the district’s budget would be allotted for other things, and said the request wasn’t a demand for immediate action.
“Water is not cheap, so I think it’s unreasonable to ask for this immediately,” Manning said. “If this can be implemented by next school year, I would be happy, but they would score brownie points with me if it were sooner.”
Manning said aletter to the district and a Facebook post on Sept. 30 titled “Remember My People,” was to raise awareness that the drinking water in Owyhee “cannot be trusted and is not safe.”
“We’ve been encouraging the tribe not to drink the water, but they have low economic means and we can’t ask them to buy water forever,” Manning said. “If we can’t supply to every tribal home, there has to be a way to safeguard our children.”