Teacher accused of threatening to shoot students pleads not guilty

PUYALLUP, Wash. — A teacher accused of threatening to shoot students at the school where she teaches pleaded not guilty to charges filed Thursday.

Julie Hillend-Jones came into court wearing a suicide prevention smock. The 58-year-old is a mathematics and geometry teacher at Emerald Ridge High School in South Hill near Puyallup. According to court documents, she repeatedly said she would shoot students at the school.

Pierce County Superior Court Commissioner Craig Adams brought up the seriousness of Hillend-Jones alleged threat when he denied her request for release without bail.

“Schools all across our country have become shooting zones for children. We have killed far too many children in our schools,” Adams said.

According to a probable cause affidavit, Hillend-Jones was on the phone with her insurance company Tuesday night when she was told she wasn't covered for a post-traumatic stress disorder claim of $8,000. Documents say she became upset and said, “I'm gonna shoot the kids,” then hung up. The insurance employee called 911.

A Pierce County sheriff's deputy went to Hillend-Jones' home Wednesday morning, where she repeated the threat, saying “she was going to shoot the kids in the school,” according to charges. When asked to write a statement, “the defendant stated that she had already written a statement, walked to her computer printed out a copy,” three pages long and showed it to the deputy.

She was arrested and charged with first-degree felony harassment for making a threat to kill students. Deputy Pierce County Prosecuting Attorney Fred Wist said that threat has to be taken seriously.

“Well, in light of what’s happened, most recently this morning in California, it just proves that communities are very concerned about this happening. Not only here but across the country,” he said.

Hillend-Jones has been ordered to stay away from Emerald Ridge High and is prohibited from contacting students and teachers from the school.

The Puyallup School District sent the following statement in response her arrest:

"The Pierce County Sheriff’s Department is conducting an investigation of an Emerald Ridge High School staff member who made threats against students during a conversation with adults off campus on Tuesday. The normal protocol for threats was followed including immediate notification of law enforcement. The staff member was not at school today. Making threats against the safety of students and staff is a felony crime and taken very seriously by Puyallup School District."

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