A man with a history of convictions including child sex crimes in Deschutes County made his way inside High Desert Middle School in Bend Tuesday morning. How he got in and how long he was inside remains unclear.
“Yes, he was inside the building,” Bend Police spokesperson Sheila Miller told Central Oregon Daily News Wednesday.
Miller said the man, identified as 40-year-old Thomas Lee Bear, came to the school asking to use the bathroom. He did somehow get inside, used the restroom and left with water on his face and panting.
Dispatch calls indicate Bear then ended up near the bus entrance outside.
A call to police was placed at 10:41 a.m., Miller said. A Deschutes County Sheriff’s Deputy arrived a minute later, followed by a Bend Police officer at 10:48.
Bear was found near Knott Road and was in custody by 11:00 a.m.
Bear was charged with four counts of second degree sexual abuse, two counts of third degree sexual abuse and one count of criminal trespass for an incident in February 2020. The crimes involved a girl who was under the age of 18.
He pleaded guilty in April of that year to one count of second degree sexual abuse and one count of third degree sexual abuse, while the other charges were dismissed. Bear was sentenced to two years in prison.
Lee signed a document confirming that, upon release, he would have no contact with the victim in his case and no contact with minors.
Bear also had a no-bail federal warrant from the U.S. Marshals, police said.
When asked Tuesday about whether Bear got into the school, a school district spokesperson emailed Central Oregon Daily News saying they would talk about it after completing an investigation.
The district did not respond to multiple request for comment Wednesday after Central Oregon Daily News confirmed Bear had been inside the school.
High Desert Middle School parents were sent an alert Tuesday that the school went into SECURE at 10:40 a.m. due to a suspicious person in the area. It was lifted at 11:15 a.m. when police said they had a suspect in custody.
The school said SECURE is when all students are brought inside and exterior doors are locked. No one is allowed in or out when the school is in SECURE.
Follow Central Oregon Daily News on social media