Friday, June 18, 2010

DA won’t pursue charges against LAH resident: Healy brought air rifle to Gunn High School

Los Altos Hills resident Weston Healy will not face criminal charges for bringing an air rifle to Gunn High School last month, prompting a lockdown and full-scale police response.
The Santa Clara County District Attorney’s Office June 9 decided not to file charges against Healy, a senior at Gunn.
DA spokeswoman Amy Cornell said applicable law didn’t warrant charges.
“The Airsoft Rifle didn’t qualify as a firearm under law,” Cornell said.
Because Healy’s Airsoft Rifle uses plastic ammunition instead of metal, Cornell said, it didn’t violate Penal Code 626.10, which prohibits stabbing instruments, razors, tasers, stun or pellet guns on school grounds.
Weapons charges could have resulted in either a felony three-year maximum prison sentence or a misdemeanor one-year county jail sentence for the 18-year-old Healy.
Healy’s attorney, Los Altos resident Eric Geffon, said his client left the Airsoft Rifle in his trunk a day prior to his May 27 arrest. Healy and a friend drove to a nearby hardware store to purchase supplies for their robotics club. Healy’s friend Mitchell (last name not provided) came across the rifle while putting supplies in the trunk and was “checking it out in the passenger seat” of Healy’s car when they returned to campus.
A city worker spotted Mitchell inspecting the rifle and called the police, who issued a “Code Red” lockdown on campus that eventually lead to Healy’s arrest. He spent one night in jail.
Palo Alto Police Department spokesman Max Nielepko said police cited and arrested only Healy because he was the owner of the vehicle and Airsoft gun.
Cornell said Healy’s young age, acknowledgement of responsibility for his action and “significant punishment” from the Gunn High administration also played a role in his not being charged. School officials suspended Healy, an Eagle Scout, and did not allow him to participate in graduation ceremonies June 9. He received his diploma Thursday.
Cornell said Healy’s family will reimburse the Palo Alto Police Department “a little over $2,000” – the cost of the response, which included dispatching a SWAT team.
Healy has been admitted to Cornell University, and Geffon said he is working out issues with the Palo Alto Unified School District to ensure Healy will be able to attend.
“Cornell (University) knows what’s going on,” Geffon said. “Our goal is to deal with Cornell to make sure they get the info they need. … (Gunn) suspended him with a recommendation of expulsion. The expulsion is still out there. … We’re optimistic about it. It’s been a tough couple weeks for him.”

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