A judge set bond Tuesday at $2 million for Grant Acord, the Oregon teenager accused in a high school bomb plot. Acord did not enter a plea during his first court appearance Tuesday. He appeared via video monitor from jail.
An Oregon teen accused of planning to bomb his high school suffers from a rare form of obsessive-compulsive disorder, his family said.
"My heart goes out to everyone affected by Grant's struggle with PANDAS, a rare form of OCD," Grant Acord's mother said through her attorney.
"I grieve for my son, but understand and support the efforts of law enforcement to keep our beloved community safe," the mother, Marianne Fox, added. "This is a challenging and confusing time for everyone who knows Grant. I will have no further comment while I wait with the rest of you to see what unfolds."
Acord, 17, is scheduled to make his first appearance in court late Tuesday. He will be charged as an adult with attempted aggravated murder.
Acord's goal, said Benton County District Attorney John Haroldson, "was to model the Columbine shootings with some adjustments that would make it a greater success."
PANDAS, which stands for pediatric autoimmune neuropsychiatric disorder associated with streptococcus, is caused by the body's immune reaction to a strep infection, not the infection itself, according to the International OCD Foundation.
Dr. Rosario Trifiletti, a New Jersey-based child neurologist and expert on PANDAS, notes there is a similar but broader diagnosis called PANS, or pediatric acute-onset neuropsychiatric syndrome, that affects 1% to 2% of children and can result in "explosive violence" among sufferers.
Trifiletti, who emphasized he cannot comment on Acord's case because he hasn't treated him, said he has seen youngsters with PANS become deeply fearful and violent with their parents.
"I think the thing that shocks parents is how quickly they change. They can snap," he said.
In his research, however, he has never seen any sufferer premeditate violence in the manner outlined in the allegations against Acord.
"There has not been a kid who has done anything close to this," the doctor said.
There are no clear diagnostic criteria for PANDAS, according to the PANDAS Network, which says the disorder is marked by a rapid onset and intensification of obsessive-compulsive behaviors.
Among those, according to the National Institutes of Health, are "obsessive thoughts, compulsive behaviors and motor or vocal tics." Those symptoms can be accompanied by anxiety attacks, irritability, extreme mood swings, temper tantrums, immaturity, hyperactivity, handwriting changes and problems in school, the NIH says.
As for PANS, the peer-reviewed journal Pediatrics & Therapeutics cites several categories of "neuropsychiatric symptoms" that can accompany the disorder: anxiety; emotional changes and/or depression; irritability, aggression and/or severely oppositional behaviors; behavioral regression; a drop in school performance; sensory or motor abnormalities; and bodily symptoms such as sleep disturbances and problems with urination.
Alan Lanker, the attorney for the mother, said Acord has received treatment, but said he did not know the details of the teen's treatment.
"He's very mentally ill. He has PANDAS. It's a brain infection that's causing a mental illness. It's been their concern for some time," Lanker said.
Police found six types of explosives after they arrested Acord on Thursday night at a home in Albany, Oregon, Haroldson said. Authorities believe he was planning to bomb West Albany High School.
They recovered napalm, pipe and drain cleaner bombs, as well as Molotov cocktails Friday from "a secret compartment that had been created in the floorboards" of the teen's bedroom, Haroldson said.
With the help of checklists and diagrams, the prosecutor said, Acord wanted to outdo the Columbine shootings.
The 1999 massacre at Colorado's Columbine High School left one teacher and 14 students dead, including the two gunmen.
Albany police became suspicious after they received information suggesting Acord was making a bomb with the intent of detonating it at a school.
"I've been doing this job for a while, and this was probably the scariest moment I've ever had as a school resource officer," Sgt. Alan Lynn told CNN affiliate KPTV.
"Luckily in this incident, somebody had the courage to come forward and say, 'This is what I know,' reported that to us, and we were able to investigate that. And because of that information, we were able to stop a horrific event (from) occurring in our community."