Meridian Elementary School, 25621 140th Ave. SE, on the East Hill in Kent. COURTESY PHOTO, Kent School District

Meridian Elementary School, 25621 140th Ave. SE, on the East Hill in Kent. COURTESY PHOTO, Kent School District

Kent man charged in Meridian Elementary incident faces hearing | Update

Transferred to Kent city jail Dec. 7 from King County custody

Kent Police booked a man charged for allegedly intimidating a Meridian Elementary School employee into the Kent city jail on Wednesday, Dec. 7.

Noah W. Peterson, 26, was booked at 11 a.m. into the jail with bail denied, according to jail records.

Peterson had been in the custody of King County Designated Crisis Responders, held under the Involuntary Treatment Act, said City Attorney Tammy White in an email. King County released Peterson Dec. 7 to the Kent Police. He is scheduled for a competency hearing Thursday, Dec. 8 in Kent Municipal Court.

Peterson, 26, faces charges in Kent Municipal Court for reportedly intimidating a school employee and harassment for a Nov. 14 incident near Meridian Elementary, 25621 140th Ave. SE, on the East according to court documents. The incident resulted in a school lockdown for one day and closure for four days. Peterson also reportedly pointed a gun at his brother Nov. 14 inside the home he lives in next to school property.

Peterson has had two Kent Municipal Court hearings (Dec. 1 and Dec. 6) to address competency continued because he remained under county custody. His public defender raised competency at an initial hearing about the charges.

After the hearing, Peterson could be kept in custody for treatment or on the charges. He also could be released depending on the judge’s ruling.

If a court (judge) believes a mental health issue may prevent a person from aiding in their defense, the court puts the criminal case on hold (per RCW 10.77) while an evaluation is completed to determine that individual’s legal competence to proceed with the criminal court case, according to the state Department of Social and Health Services (DSHS) website.

If the individual is found not competent, DSHS is required to provide them with competency restoration services in a timely fashion, after which point the criminal case may proceed, according to DSHS. The majority of competency restoration services are provided in the forensic units of Western State Hospital in Lakewood in Pierce County.

DSHS, however, has approximately 850 mentally ill defendants across the state that are waiting for court-ordered mental health treatment at state psychiatric facilities, according to a Nov. 29 report on king5.com. King County has more than a record-number of 100 mentally ill defendants waiting in the county jail for a bed at Western State Hospital, according to the report.

The criminal case is in Kent Municipal Court because the charges are misdemeanors. King County Superior Court handles felony cases.

Kent Police arrested Peterson Nov. 16 and booked him into the city jail before he was transported less than 24 hours later to a treatment center for psychiatric care and evaluation, Kent Police Chief Rafael Padilla said in an email.

An estimated 150 people attended a town hall meeting Nov. 22 about the Meridian Elementary incident. Padilla, Kent Mayor Dana Ralph and Kent School District Superintendent Israel Vela led a nearly 90-minute meeting.

Meridian Elementary parents and teachers raised concerns about what will happen next, especially if Peterson is released from custody.


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