By CRAIG MURPHY
Of the Keizertimes
The 17-year-old son charged with murdering his mom and shooting his dad on March 5 was a former McNary High School student.
Brett Angus Pearson was arrested around 1 a.m. March 6, about 90 minutes after officers with the Keizer Police Department responded to an alarm at the family home on Ventura Loop North.
Brett’s 44-year-old mom, Michelle Yvonne Pearson, was found shot to death. His father, 57-year-old Wilfred “Bill” Pearson, received “serious gunshot injuries” but was taken to Salem Hospital for treatment.
Both Brett Pearson and his friend, 17-year-old Robert Daniel Miller II of Keizer, were arrested. Both were arraigned Friday afternoon.
John Honey, principal at McNary High School, confirmed the enrollment status of both teens.
“Brett Pearson was formerly enrolled at McNary High School,” Honey said Thursday. “Robert Miller is currently enrolled.”
Pearson had started the school year as a junior, while Miller was a senior.
Honey could not confirm rumors about why Pearson was no longer enrolled at MHS. It was later confirmed Pearson was a student at Downtown Learning Center in Salem.
“Due to student privacy laws, I can only confirm if students were enrolled or not,” Honey said. “Brett started the school year at McNary. I don’t know when he withdrew, transferred or whatever happened with him.”
Honey said the mood at McNary on Thursday mirrored the rest of the town’s.
“It is as shocking for McNary High School as it is for the Keizer community,” Honey said. “The school’s focus is to keep the kids’ focus on school. We want to maintain a high academic level. We want to provide any kind of emotional support as needed, whether it be for students who are friends (with the suspects) or if they’re just upset.”
According to Honey, steps taken to help students weren’t used much.
“We set up a crisis team this morning,” he said. “We had two extra counselors. We didn’t have much foot traffic, so we let them leave. We reminded counselors to prioritize kids that came in. There were a few kids that came in, but it more of an in and out basis. Kids were checking in, saying things like, ‘I heard this had happened.’ It was nothing more than we would have expected.”
Following Friday afternoon’s arraignment, the family of Bill and Michelle Peterson released a statement.
“We are shocked and heartbroken by the tragic events of March 5, 2014, that resulted in the passing of our wife, mother, sister, daughter and friend Michelle Y. Pearson,” the statement read. “Michelle was the heart of our family and we ask for privacy as we grieve this loss and as we provide love, prayers, and support to our son, father and friend Bill Pearson as he recovers from his injuries. We are overwhelmed by the outpouring of kindness and love for our family and would especially like to thank our faith communities for their continuing support and prayers.”