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Former school janitor who planned mass shooting headed to state hospital

Kristopher Wayne Clay

A former South Medford High School janitor who sought mental health help, defusing a mass shooting he’d planned, will spend the next two decades under the care of the Oregon State Psychiatric Review Board.

Judge Charles Kochlacs found Kristopher Wayne Clay, 25, guilty but insane on a charge of attempted second-degree murder in a stipulated facts trial Thursday stemming from a criminal investigation that began last year with calls to Jackson County Mental Health and Medford police and culminated with police finding a cache of gun parts and plans in his journals to carry out a mass shooting at the school where he worked, according to the Jackson County District Attorney’s Office.

Prior to his arrest in July last year, Clay lived at Hope Village, the tiny-house development for people battling homelessness operated by Rogue Retreat. He walked two and half miles to work the high school’s night shift beginning in February last year, according to an earlier news report.

Clay reportedly called Jackson County Mental Health July 20, 2021, claiming he had a friend who was thinking of committing a mass casualty event. Mental health workers advised him to contact the police.

At the Medford police lobby, Clay told an officer he was a janitor at the high school, had parts to put together rifles at his grandmother’s storage unit, rifle parts elsewhere and had amassed ammunition and magazines.

“When asked if he was homicidal, he told the officer it was getting to the point he wanted to hurt a lot of people,” the release from the DA’s office states.

Clay was evaluated at Rogue Regional Medical Center’s Psychiatric Care Unit.

“While the defendant was at the hospital, he told a PCU nurse he wanted to hold a classroom hostage, and if any of the children lived, they would be heroes,” says a news release from the district attorney’s office.

Search warrants served at Clay’s home, his grandparents’ home and his grandparents’ storage units yielded gun parts that included “the lower 80% of an AR-15 style firearm,” banana style magazines, a “Scream” style Halloween mask, military clothing, protective eye gear, a tactical vest and maps with markings of the school, jail and courthouse.

Searches of Clay’s phone showed he’d ordered the gun parts and other items to be used in the planned shooting.

At his grandparents’ home, he also had easy access to a compound bow and arrow, knives and two rifles.

Investigators also recovered journals with over 1,000 pages of manifestos, plans and fantasies about becoming famous for assassinating a celebrity or committing a mass murder on the same day as the Columbine High School massacre.

Before obtaining a job at South Medford High School, Clay had applied for employment at other schools.

Medford School District terminated Clay’s employment, confiscated his keys and disabled his electric key card after his arrest in summer last year.

Medford Superintendent Bret Champion said in response to Clay’s arrest that the school district conducts a “multilayered background check” that includes a check for criminal records, a drug test and a reference check, but everything came back with “no red flags” when they hired him, according to earlier news reports.

Clay told investigators at the time he was “receiving orders from the man upstairs for a mass sacrifice” and that he’d been trying to ignore them for as long as he could.

At trial, Kochlachs found Clay was affected by schizophrenia spectrum, or another psychotic disorder at the time of the crime, and sentenced him to 20 years in the custody of the Oregon State Psychiatric Review Board. The Jackson County Sheriff’s Office will transport him to the state hospital.

Reach web editor Nick Morgan at 541-776-4471 or nmorgan@rosebudmedia.com. Follow him on Twitter @MTwebeditor.