A 17-year-old Flathead High student has admitted to bringing a loaded gun to school earlier this year.
The student appeared at a change of plea hearing on March 18 in Flathead County District Court before Judge Amy Eddy.
The boy had been charged with six misdemeanors, including possession of a weapon in school, carrying a concealed weapon, criminal possession of drug paraphernalia, running away, theft and unlawful possession of an intoxicating substance. The 17-year-old denied the allegations at a hearing on Feb. 12 and was scheduled to go to trial on March 28.
The Beacon is withholding the defendant’s name because he is a minor.
According to Flathead High School Resource Officer Cory Clarke and court documents, a school employee noticed the student was skipping class on Jan. 29 and confronted him. During the conversation, the employee noticed the student smelled of alcohol and he was taken to an administrator’s office. The student allegedly told school officials that he had been drinking and that there was a bottle of wine in his bag. When officials searched the bag, they also found the loaded revolver with five bullets.
During an interview with police, the student said he planned on selling the gun, but Clarke said other interviews suggested that the student was about to runaway from home and wanted the weapon as protection. He allegedly stole the gun from a family member.
Clarke said that he does not believe the student planned on harming anyone with the weapon.
The student’s public defender, Greg Rapkoch, filed a motion to dismiss the carrying a concealed weapon charge on Feb. 17. In his argument, Rapkoch stated that the gun was in a backpack and not concealed under a piece of clothing as the statue agrees. Judge Eddy agreed and dismissed the charge on March 17.
At the change of plea hearing, the 17-year-old was found to be a serious juvenile offender. He will appear in court again at a dispositional hearing for sentencing on April 29.
The gun the boy had taken to school has since been returned to its owner.
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