Updated 10:04 a.m.
WENATCHEE — A Cashmere High School student accused of pulling a knife on a 14-year-old peer faces a charge of second-degree assault, as well as possible deportation.
Chelan County Prosecutor Douglas Shae filed the charge Monday against Jose Mayolo Gaitan-Castro, 18.
The filing came 10 days after sheriff’s deputies say the high school senior held a pocketknife to his fellow student’s ribs and warned him against wearing blue clothing — a color associated with Sureño street gangs.
The incident took place off-campus Aug. 30 as students left classes at Cashmere High School. Vice Principal Scott Brown reported it to police Sept. 4 after gathering statements from witnesses.
Deputies said the victim, one eyewitness and Gaitan himself told them he threatened the victim with the knife for wearing blue clothing, and urged him to “represent” Norteño gang interests.
Norteño gangmembers often use the color red in their clothing, and abhor blue.
Deputies said Gaitan told them he carried two knives to school that day, one in his pants pocket and one in his backpack. A witness described the pocketknife used in the assault as black-handled and black-bladed.
Cashmere School Superintendent Glenn Johnson said Tuesday the student involved in the assault is on “emergency expulsion,” barred from school grounds and activities until the criminal case is resolved. Johnson would not confirm that Gaitan was the student.
Asked about the delay between the Aug. 30 incident and the Sept. 4 report to the sheriff’s deputies, Johnson said school officials “acted on the situation immediately upon finding out.”
“I do think we have clear guidelines and expectations, whether it’s gang activity or unsafe behavior or respect for others,” Johnson said. “The fact is we have zero tolerance for situations that are gonna cause a safety issue.”
Gaitan, who has no prior criminal record, remains in the Chelan County Regional Justice Center on $50,000 bond. He is also held on detainer from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, meaning the federal agency will review his immigration status once his criminal case is closed.
Second-degree assault is punishable by up to 10 years in prison, but a first-time offender is likely to draw a sentence of no more than nine months.
Johnson said he has no evidence the incident reflects a wider gang problem in Cashmere schools.
“On the other hand, I’m not diminishing the fact that we have to be cognizant of it,” he said.