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Continued: Hastings eighth-grader wanted to scare kids with gun

  • Article by: PAUL WALSH , Star Tribune
  • Last update: April 7, 2010 - 11:10 PM

The eighth-grader suspected of pointing a loaded handgun at staff and students in Hastings Middle School on Monday was charged Wednesday with five felonies.

He told police he brought the weapon to school to scare some students who were treating him badly, Dakota County Attorney James Backstrom said.

The 14-year-old boy, whose name is being withheld because of his age, is charged with three counts of second-degree assault, and one count each of making terroristic threats and criminal damage to property. He made his first court appearance Wednesday morning.

While wandering the halls, the boy allegedly encountered two staff members and a school administrator, then mouthed "bang, bang, bang" as he pointed the .22-caliber gun at one of the three adults. One of the adults told police that he heard a click and thought the boy was trying to fire the gun. But no shots were fired.

"In light of the tragedies at Red Lake, Cold Spring and other tragedies across America, acts of this nature must be taken extremely seriously by both school officials and law enforcement," Backstrom said in a written statement.

He said his office is seeking to have the boy tried as an adult or have him prosecuted under extended juvenile jurisdiction (EJJ) -- a form of blended sentencing for serious and violent juvenile offenders prosecuted in juvenile court.

The county attorney's website describes it as a way to deal with minors with no criminal history who have committed serious crimes, but who don't properly belong in the adult justice system.

According to Backstrom:

The student took the bus to school and brought the gun in his backpack. He did not attend his first three classes that day.

About 10:30 a.m., he entered his fourth-hour science class with the gun in his hand -- but not pointed at anyone in particular -- and ordered everyone to the ground. The teacher, Michael Rapatz, tried to calm the boy, who turned and left the room. The teacher alerted the school office to go on lockdown.

The boy then walked the halls, knocking on classroom doors, breaking several windows and unlocking the doors.

He pointed the gun around in one of the rooms as students and the teacher were on the floor in the back, hiding behind several tables.

The student was eventually tackled and arrested outside the school.

The boy was treated for cuts to his hand at Regina Medical Center, then taken to the Hastings Police Department, where he told police that he wanted to scare several students who had not been treating him well. School officials said this week they were unaware of conflicts involving the boy and other students, or would have intervened.

"Bullying and harassment will not be tolerated," said Tim Collins, Hastings school superintendent. Among efforts to quell bullying, he said, is a "respect retreat" for students moving from elementary to middle school.

The boy also told police that he tried and failed to fire the gun in a school bathroom. He said that the gun came from his foster home and that he used a key to retrieve it from a locked cabinet.

Police recovered three unfired cartridges: one in the gun, one in the school bathroom and a third in a school hall. However, they were long cartridges, and his gun was made to fire short cartridges.

Staff writer Jim Anderson contributed to this report. Paul Walsh • 612-673-4482

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