Friday, April 14, 2006

Teen charged for airsoft gun at school

Prosecutors filed criminal charges Tuesday against a 14-year-old boy who brought a handgun to Chinook Middle School.

The student was charged in Thurston County Juvenile Court with unlawful possession of a firearm and possession of a weapon on school grounds. The student, who has been in custody since his arrest Friday, is scheduled for a court hearing today on terms of his release.

He faces 60 days in juvenile detention if convicted of both charges. He is not being named because of his age and because he didn’t threaten anyone with the gun.

“We’re taking it very seriously,” Deputy Prosecutor Laura Murphy said. “We recognize that although he didn’t threaten anybody, he still had a gun with ammunition at school. We’re really concerned about that.”

School officials discovered the 9 mm gun last Friday after bringing the boy to an administrator’s office because he had singed another student’s neck hair with a cigarette lighter. Officials searched the boy’s school bag and found the gun, along with a clip with two rounds.

The boy then gave officials the names of two boys to whom he’d shown the gun. Officials searched their backpacks and found an Airsoft pellet gun, makeshift brass knuckles and knives. None of them threatened anyone or were planning to use the weapons on other students, officials said.

The other two students do not face criminal charges. The Airsoft gun, which fires rubber pellets, is spring-loaded and does not fall under the dangerous weapons statute, Murphy said.

The state law prohibiting firearms on school campuses also requires a mandatory mental health evaluation for any students arrested on suspicion of taking a gun to school. A judge will hear the report on the Lacey student during today’s hearing.

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