Monday, June 14, 2010

No charges for Gunn student who brought airsoft rifle to school, DA's office says

No criminal charges will be filed against the Gunn High School senior who brought an Airsoft pellet rifle to the Palo Alto school, triggering a 45-minute campus lockdown last month, the Santa Clara County District Attorney's Office has determined.
After considering the "specific facts and the applicable law," prosecutors opted not to pursue the case against 18-year-old Weston Healy, district attorney spokeswoman Amy Cornell said Wednesday. Healy was arrested May 27 after someone spotted him and a friend driving into the school's parking lot with the gun.
Healy could have been charged with a felony and sentenced to up to three years in prison, Cornell said. But the California Penal Code provision under which prosecutors considered charging Healy specifies that the kind of firearms prohibited on school grounds are those that shoot a "metallic projectile." Airsoft guns wouldn't fall under that provision because they shoot plastic pellets instead.
Healy still could have been charged with bringing a knife onto school grounds, a misdemeanor, Cornell said. Police found the military-style blade in the trunk of his car.
"We also considered factors related to the suspect, including his youthful age, his acknowledgment of responsibility for his actions, and the significant administrative consequences being imposed by his school," Cornell wrote in an e-mail.
Healy's lawyer, Eric Geffon, said the Gunn graduate and his family are "relieved and grateful."
A "bad set of circumstances" led to Healy's arrest, Geffon said. The Eagle Scout and honors student had put the Airsoft gun inside the trunk of his car a couple of days before the May 27 incident. He intended to take it to his mother's house to compare it with his brother's new Airsoft gun, Geffon said.
But Healy forgot about it until he and a friend went to buy supplies for Gunn's robotics team at a hardware store, Geffon said. His friend noticed the gun, asked if he could look at it, and was holding it as they drove to school, Geffon said. Minutes after they were spotted, authorities locked down the school and began searching classrooms.
Police said they also found a shovel with a 4-inch pick and a hatchet with a removable saw in the trunk of Healy's car. Healy took the items with him on a recent camping trip with friends and had not yet removed them from the trunk, Geffon said.
Healy was suspended from school for the remainder of the year and wasn't able to walk in Wednesday's graduation ceremony, Geffon said, but he will receive his diploma.
He's also "doing everything possible" to make sure he can still attend Cornell University in the fall as planned, Geffon said.
"They know about this and he's in communication with them," Geffon said. "They were waiting obviously to see what happened with the DA's office, so I'm sure this will help."
Healy's family is paying the costs of the police response, Geffon said, which totals about $2,100.
In the meantime, Gunn students and others in the community have rallied around Healy. A "FREE WESTON!!!!!" Facebook group has more than 800 members, and more than 600 have signed an online petition urging Gunn administrators to "exercise reasonableness" in disciplining Healy.
"Thank you to all of those who have supported me," Healy posted on the Facebook group Wednesday. "I want everyone to know that I am really sorry for my thoughtless decisions. I did not mean for any of this to happen. I have been humbled by this experience and see how unintentional choices can lead to unwanted and unexpected events."

1 comment:

  1. Well, he's a lucky guy. But I sincerely hope he has learned his lesson (despite his getting off the hook).