Teen accused of firing gun in Utah school pleads not guilty

AP News
|
Posted: Dec 22, 2016 1:57 PM

FARMINGTON, Utah (AP) — A Utah teenager accused of firing a shotgun inside a junior high classroom before being disarmed by his parents pleaded not guilty Thursday to five theft and firearms charges. No one was injured in the shooting.

The 15-year-old boy, who is charged as a juvenile, sat between his parents and his lawyer in a Farmington courtroom as defense attorney Lindsay Jarvis told the judge her client wanted to enter a denial of all charges, the equivalent of not guilty pleas in juvenile court.

The boy is accused of taking a shotgun and handgun from his parents' safe and bringing them to school Dec. 1 along with two boxes of ammunition hidden under a long coat.

His parents were concerned about him and followed him to school after discovering their weapons were missing, police said. They heard the shot and disarmed him at Mueller Park Junior High School in Bountiful, about 11 miles north of Salt Lake City.

The Associated Press is not naming the boy because of his age.

The incident prompted a school lockdown and sent hundreds of parents rushing to the school to find out what happened.

The teen, with shaggy hair that almost covered his eyes, was quiet and spent most of the brief hearing looking straight ahead. He wore a grey sweatshirt and sweatpants.

His parents embraced him as he entered the court, putting a supportive arm around his shoulders and a hand on his arm. His mother reached over and whispered to him a few times and patted his back.

Police say the teen fired one shot into the ceiling of the classroom, leaving a hole the size of a small plate. He didn't say a word as a teacher and one of 26 students tried to talk him out of firing again, police said.

The pause gave the boy's parents a few extra seconds to arrive and take him into the hallway.

The boy is charged with two felony counts of theft of a firearm; one felony count of discharge of a firearm; and two misdemeanor counts of possession of a short-barreled shotgun on school premises.

Prosecutors want to try the teen as an adult but a judge has yet to make a ruling on that request. Defense attorney Lindsay Jarvis told reporters Thursday she wants to keep the case in juvenile court.

Court officials say the teen has no previous history with the juvenile court system.