The Warren County High School junior who brought a loaded gun to school has entered a guilty plea and has been committed to the Department of Children’s Services.
The 16-year-old student, whose name has not been released due to his being a juvenile, appeared before Juvenile Court Judge Bill Locke on Thursday and entered a plea to the charge of delinquency to the act of possessing a firearm on school property.
The charge, which would be a felony had he been an adult, prompted his commitment to DCS for an indeterminate period. Since the minimum period in DCS custody is typically six months, the sentence means he could be in custody from six months till his 19th birthday.
According to assistant district attorney Justin Walling, DCS will offer rehabilitation and educational programs to the youth while he is in state custody. The organization will then assess when he is ready to return home.
The teen was taken for questioning Wednesday morning after two students reported seeing him in possession of the gun. He admitted to bringing the gun to school during questioning and lawmen were able to recover the gun from a locker where he had hidden it. The gun was a loaded, 22-caliber handgun he reportedly took from his step-grandfather’s collection. The WCHS campus was placed on lockdown for nearly two hours. His motive for bringing the gun to school remains unclear.
For parents wondering if the student may be allowed to return to WCHS if he should be released from DCS custody in six months, Director of Schools Bobby Cox said the teen was expelled for one calendar year as of Wednesday. He said should circumstances allow the boy to return to public schools after one year, it will be up to the disciplinary board to determine what happens.
“We’ve never had a situation like this before so we’ll have to handle it at that point,” said Cox. He added that while the public school system has an obligation to educate every child, administrators do have the final say on placement, such as the alternative school.