The Eastern New Mexico News - Serving Clovis, Portales and the Surrounding Communities

Police report: Child with Airsoft pistol planned to kill

Marshall student, 12, to undergo evaluation

 

March 24, 2018



CLOVIS — A 12-year old brought a toy gun to school and threatened to kill the people there. It may have been big talk without much to back it up, but it was enough for a Clovis jury on Thursday to find that he had committed aggravated assault upon a school employee and “unlawful carrying of a deadly weapon on school premises,” according to a news release from District Attorney Andrea Reeb.

The news release said the child entered Marshall Middle School on Feb. 8 with a loaded Airsoft pistol.

“Several students reported to Principal Todd Morris that the child was carrying a weapon, and school officials immediately acted to apprehend the child and to secure the weapon,” the release said.

“After removing the child from the halls and getting him into Principal Morris’ office, the child made several threats, including ‘How would you like to be shot by a 12-year-old?’”

Police responded, confiscated and disarmed the toy pistol and arrested the child, the release said.

Judge Fred Van Soelen ordered the child to undergo a 15-day evaluation at the Youth Diagnostic and Development Center in Albuquerque. The Court will hold a disposition hearing at a later date.

“This is a very personal victory for the people of Clovis,” Prosecutor Lara Maierhofer said.

“Not only did our community hold this child accountable for his actions, but Marshall Middle School personnel and Principal Todd Morris acted swiftly and diligently to protect their students from harm.”

It was soon after 8 a.m. on Feb. 8 that police were notified of the situation at the middle school. When Officer Antonio Orozco arrived, Morris told him he had “recovered a CO2 cartridge off of (the juvenile),” who by then was isolated to the principal’s office, according to a police report.

Orozco began to search the juvenile, who admitted to having the gun in his waistband. The black Airsoft pistol slid down his left pant leg, and Orozco began to inspect it.

“I then noticed (the pistol) was loaded with BBs. I then removed the CO2 air cartridge from the gun and made it safe,” he wrote in the report. “The CO2 cartridge was charged in the gun and ready to fire when it was collected...

“After I removed the gun from him, (the juvenile) made the statement ‘I should have just shot up the school while I had the chance.”

Orozco said the juvenile “was often laughing and being sarcastic” during questioning in the office.

“He informed me his plan was to shoot at crowds of students or staff at school. He then said he was planning on them to fall after being shot and he would then go snap their necks to kill them,” Orozco wrote. “He also said there were other ways he could have killed people during the incident.”

Chief Deputy District Attorney Brian Stover, who advised police Feb. 8 of what charges to make, said the juvenile’s audacity was the most concerning element for prosecutors.

“It did look identical to a firearm. I believe significant damage could be done,” he told The News. “More concerning with me, though, is the fact that we had a middle school student who, sitting in his principal’s office, facing his principal, was threatening to shoot that principal.”

The 15-day evaluation will determine if the juvenile should be committed to the state’s Children, Youth and Families department, subject to residential treatment or local services, Stover said.

“In the juvenile code, we’re not looking at penalties, we’re looking at what is the most relevant treatment for him and the community,” he added.

Reeb acknowledged that a person would be hard-pressed to inflict fatal injury with the toy gun, but said it still qualified as a “deadly weapon” by legal definitions.

“Under the law, a deadly weapon is an instrument or a weapon that could cause death or great bodily injury,” she said. “Great bodily injury or harm is considered any injury that results in a permanent or protracted loss of any member or organ of the body, or that could.

“So it’s because an Airsoft gun could result in like, you could lose an eye, any of those types of things. That is what the prosecutor argued and that is what the jury bought,” she explained, noting the same criteria had been used in past cases involving BB guns.

Clovis Municipal Schools Superintendent Jody Balch said he didn’t see it necessary to make any public announcement of the incident and arrest at the time because “the point is he couldn’t do deadly harm to someone.”

“It was an Airsoft pistol,” he said. “And that’s why we didn’t notify anybody other than the police, because it was an Airsoft pistol.”

The most damage that can be directly inflicted with an Airsoft pistol would be a welt on the skin or injury to the eye, several employees of local gun and outdoor shops told The News on Friday.

“You could put their eye out,” said Michael Richards, head instructor at a gun shop and shooting range west of Clovis. “I think the panic factor would be more drastic than anything. People are more likely to get trampled in the mass run out.”

Clovis Police Chief Doug Ford said officials declined to make any announcement of the situation at the time since it was resolved the same day.

“There was no reason to alert the public to a situation that was over and properly taken care of by Officers,” he wrote in a message to The News. “This was not an active on going event, nor was it one which was continuing or a need to panic the public.”

 

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