Wednesday 7 December 2016

Parents disarm son who brought guns to Utah school

Published 02/12/2016 | 02:06

Police at Mueller Park Junior High after the shooting incident (AP)
Police at Mueller Park Junior High after the shooting incident (AP)

Two fast-acting parents disarmed their 15-year-old son at a junior high school after they noticed the teenager acting strangely in the morning and realised he had taken the family shotgun and handgun.

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The mother and father arrived shortly after the boy entered a classroom in the northern Utah city of Bountiful and fired one round into the ceiling, injuring no one but leaving a hole the size of a small plate, Bountiful police chief Tom Ross said.

The suspect also pointed the shotgun at his own neck, Ross said.

The boy did not say a word as a teacher and one of 26 pupils tried to talk him out of firing again, giving his parents vital extra seconds to arrive at the classroom and take him into the hallway, Mr Ross said.

The chief praised the parents for recognising something was wrong and taking action, but would not say what they noticed.

Police said the boy walked to Mueller Park Junior High with the shotgun and two boxes of ammunition under a long trenchcoat-type jacket, concealing the weapons. He did not point the shotgun at any other pupils.

Investigators believe he took the weapons from his parents' gun safe. Police are also investigating his motive.

The boy has been booked on suspicion of two charges of theft of a firearm and two counts of taking a weapon into a school.

Parents spent hours waiting for their children after the shooting as police searched the school to make sure it was safe then sent students in small groups to reunite with parents waiting at a nearby church.

Pupil Dan Fowers, 15, said the teenager went into the classroom minutes after lessons began and fired one round from a shotgun into the ceiling before a woman grabbed the gun and told him to stop.

He said the woman threw the gun on the ground and pulled the boy back into a hallway.

"It was really scary," he said. "The look on his face, it kind of looked like he wanted to do some damage."

He said students in the classroom dived under their desks, as they had been taught during lockdown drills, with some screaming and crying.

As the parents intervened, a teacher called 911 and a police officer who happened to be in the street arrived and took custody of the boy soon after, police said.

The school, about 11 miles north of Salt Lake City, remained on lockdown as more than 100 officers went room-by-room through the building to ensure it was safe.

Candy Beckstead was at a dentist's office when her sister called to tell her that there was something going on at her son's school.

"I freaked out and went into panic mode," she said. "Screaming, crying."

About 840 students in seventh, eighth and ninth grades attend the school, according to state data. Bountiful is a city with a predominantly Mormon population of about 44,000 people.

The incident comes about two weeks after another Utah student stabbed five high school classmates and himself before he was cornered by school workers, according to police.

AP

Press Association

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