Tuesday, June 08, 2010

Innocent mistake' sparked Gunn lockdown

Weston Healy, an Eagle Scout with a 4. 17 grade-point-average, was about to complete his senior year at Gunn High School and looking forward to enrolling at Cornell University this fall. All that was jeopardized last Thursday after the Gunn campus was thrown into an emergency "Code Red" lockdown, terrifying students and parents and resulting in Healy's arrest on charges of possessing a weapon on a school campus. Today Healy, 18, is at home in Los Altos Hills, suspended from school, while his lawyer works with Gunn officials and the Santa Clara County District Attorney's Office in hopes of ensuring Healy's plans for his future unfold as previously expected. It was all an innocent mistake, according to Healy, his father and lawyer Eric Geffon of San Jose. District Attorney's Office spokeswoman Amy Cornell said Healy's case is under review. A court clerk said an arraignment is scheduled tentatively for next Thursday, which is the day after Gunn's graduation ceremony. The weapon in Healy's car the day of his arrest was an airsoft rifle, a recreational weapon that can be purchased for $50 to $300. Unlike metal BBs from a BB gun, airsoft products shoot non-puncturing plastic BBs and are used in games similar to those played at the popular birthday-party venue Laser Quest in Mountain View. Purchasers of airsoft guns must be 18 or older because the products "look so realistic and could be mistaken for the real thing," a Big 5 Sporting Goods salesclerk said. Healy inadvertently had an airsoft rifle in his car when he drove with a friend onto campus last Thursday afternoon to drop off equipment for the robotics class, his lawyer said. A city employee saw the rifle and called police. "You can't blame them for calling the police, and you can't blame the police for responding as they did," Geffon said Thursday. After dropping off the robotics equipment, Healy and his friend were heading back to the car when the school lockdown was imposed, and the two were pulled into the nearest classroom, Geffon said. "Weston and his friend thought the Code Red was unusual, and Weston said, 'Do you think it's possible that we're the reason it's a Code Red?'" Geffon said. At that point, Healy approached the teacher and explained about the airsoft rifle, he said. Asked whether Healy still plans to go to Cornell, Geffon said: "Knock on wood he's still going. "Everything we're doing with both the school and the district attorney is to make sure he continues to graduate and go to Cornell," the lawyer said. Geffon said Healy realized as he was pulling into the Gunn campus May 27 that "having this (airsoft rifle) in the parking lot is a bad idea," but he and his friend decided to just put it in the trunk because they intended to be on campus for such a short time. "I have a growing list of 75 letters that I've been receiving from various people -- teachers, scoutmasters, friends of the family -- that speak in glowing terms about this kid," he said. "He's a really, really good kid, and this is a very unfortunate situation. "Geffon said Healy had owned the airsoft rifle "for some time" but that calling it a hobby "would probably be an overstatement. "Besides scouting and robotics at Gunn, Healy participated in water polo, swimming and wrestling and has been active in his Mormon church, the lawyer said. About two days before the Code Red episode, Healy had put the airsoft rifle in the trunk of his car to take it from his father's house to his mother's house in order to compare it to a new airsoft gun that had been purchased for his younger brother, he said. While Weston and a friend were at Orchard Supply Hardware purchasing supplies for robotics last Thursday, May 27, the friend commented on the airsoft rifle and asked to look at it and was holding it when the two drove into the Gunn parking lot, Geffon said. Among the items police reported they found in Healy's car were "two face masks, one spade shovel with a 4-inch pick, a hatchet with a removable saw and a military style knife with a 7-inch blade. "Geffon said what police called "face masks" were airsoft safety goggles used for eye protection while playing with airsoft guns. The other items had been left in the trunk after a camping trip Healy had taken with friends the weekend of May 15 to Tunitas Creek in Half Moon Bay. "He doesn't tend to clean out his car very often," Geffon said. "He removed the tent and a couple of chairs because he needed to transport a couple of kids home to do a project. So he moved the big things but left the knife and hatchet. "Gunn officials declined to comment on the Healy case. Geffon said Healy has been suspended from school until Monday and has not yet been told whether he will be permitted to participate in graduation. "Our concern is we make sure Weston is able to finish the school year and get his diploma," he said.

No comments:

Post a Comment