On Nov. 1, a Kalispell Junior High School (KJHS) student turned in an ominous note to school administrators. The student had found the note on a hallway floor. It informed someone named Alex that the writer planned to “have Fred set it off” on the fifth during second period, and that Alex should ditch school that day.
“It,” school administrators felt, could have been a bomb, and even though Nov. 5 fell on Sunday, the school decided to investigate.
“Any threats that are turned in, we need to investigate,” says Barry Grace, KJHS principal.
And so, Grace says, Vice Principal Tryg Johnson and school Resource Officer Doug Overman began questioning all ninth-graders named Alex.
But one of those Alexes, 14-year-old Alex Albrethsen, says Overman and Johnson singled him out because of the way he dresses, accused him of being involved in the potential plot, and told him, “If I was lying, I’d go to jail.”
On Nov. 6, at his parents’ home in Kalispell, Albrethsen wears a black hooded sweatshirt with a black T-shirt underneath, black jeans, black socks and black shoes. His hair is black with blood red highlights, and he wears black nail polish and black eyeliner. But if his clothes suggest something sinister, his near-constant smile and mellow shyness expose a well-adjusted teenager.
“They told me they picked me out first because I look like I’d be involved in something like that,” Albrethsen says.
Grace, who is fielding calls to the school on the supposed bomb threat, says all Alexes were treated equally. But Albrethsen’s parents, David and Deanna Henderson, don’t buy it. They say the school targeted their son for his appearance and tried to scare him into confessing to something he didn’t do. They’ve considered hiring a lawyer to help get to the bottom of it.
In the meantime, Grace says bomb-sniffing dogs checked the school before students arrived Monday, and found nothing.
Albrethsen says things were mostly normal when he returned to classes Monday morning, except that “Everybody in first and second period was scared because they thought I was going to blow up.”