Tuesday, March 05, 2013

Charges dismissed against teen who took Airsoft pistol to school

By Robby Korth

Omaha World-Herald

A judge dismissed charges against a Bellevue East High School student Monday after prosecutors said he took an Airsoft pistol to school, causing a lockdown.

Daejawntae Goings, 16, of Bellevue had been charged with tampering with evidence, a felony, and making terroristic threats, a misdemeanor.

Assistant Sarpy County Prosecutor Stephanie Martinez said Goings made terroristic threats by brandishing the [airsoft] weapon at two girls. Prosecutors allege he then tampered with evidence after he told police he didn't know where the [airsoft] gun was but later admitted that he had “stashed” it where officers found it.

Goings' lawyer, Patrick Boylan, chief deputy public defender, said Goings never threatened anyone out loud, so he couldn't be charged with terroristic threats.

“He never threatened those two girls,” Boylan said. “How could my client be charged with terroristic threatening?”

Sarpy County Judge Robert Wester decided he couldn't, and dismissed both charges.
Prosecutors said they plan to refile charges.

According to police, Goings pulled the [airsoft] pistol out of his waistband and cocked it in front of the two girls on Feb. 6.

An Airsoft gun looks like a real pistol, but it fires non-lethal plastic [airsoft bb] pellets.

The [airsoft] gun didn't have the orange tip usually used to distinguish toy guns from real guns, and it had a red Heckler & Koch emblem on the butt of the pistol, Detective Francis Gallo said during the hearing.

The girls alerted school administrators, who called police about 2:15 p.m.

Goings first went into a bathroom and then to the high school's career center, where he told a teacher and six students that there was a school evacuation. The teacher told students to remain where they were and left to investigate. Goings was working alongside other students at a computer when police arrived, officers testified.

About 20 officers descended on Bellevue East in response to an alleged gunman.

“When I arrived, students seemed scared,” Police Officer Tim Janda said.

At first, the only gun that police could find was a green plastic squirt gun in Goings' backpack. Police found the Airsoft pistol hidden under a stack of papers in a recycling bin.

Goings said he had the [airsoft] gun because he feared for his safety, Janda said.

Sarpy County Prosecutor Lee Polikov said he still believes that brandishing a fake [airsoft] gun and causing a school lockdown is illegal. His office plans to again charge Goings. Options include filing only misdemeanor charges, filing in juvenile court or filing in district court.

“There are charges we think we can hold him accountable for,” Polikov said.

Boylan, the defense attorney, said after the hearing that Goings is relieved but knows the case probably isn't over.

“Until it's ultimately decided, he is going to concentrate on his schoolwork and his responsibilities at home,” Boylan said.

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