Utah Teen Arrested for Back to School Threat of Gun Violence

A 17 year old Utah teen was earlier this month for a back to school threat of gun violence that left students and parents more apprehensive about the return of the school year.

Back to school

Photo by: Jorge Diaz

Returning to school after a long summer can be tough for kids as they navigate a changed schedule with different teachers and sometimes even a new school. To add to the chaos and uneasiness of returning to class for an Orem high school was the threat of gun violence by a senior the day before classes resumed. The 17 year old girl who was not named due to her being a minor posted a video on Instagram showing her loading a gun and saying: “You ready for your first and last day of school?” Worried parents alerted police to the alarming video and the teen was later arrested for making a threat of gun violence against a school, a threat of terrorism.

Terrorism

The girl may have been serious about her threat of gun violence or she may have been playing a joke. Regardless, she is facing multiple charges including a second degree felony for making a threat of terrorism for her social media post. Utah Code 76-5-107.3 states “A person commits a [second degree] threat of terrorism if the person threatens to commit any offense involving bodily injury, death, or substantial property damage, and: threatens the use of a weapon [or hoax weapon] or mass destruction. .  or acts with intent to. . . intimidate or coerce a civilian population.” That section goes on to explain that “A threat . . . may be express[ed] or implied.”

No laughing matter

With more kids and parents being on edge following the increase of school shootings around the nation, making a “joke” threat of gun violence ends up not being funny to anyone involved. Kids and teens need to be warned about the ramifications of making these types of serious threats. Those minors and their families who are facing legal trouble following a hoax threat are encouraged to see a reputable attorney to handle the juvenile or district court case.

Skirmish between Groups of Teens in West Jordan Ends in Shooting

A skirmish between two groups of teens in West Jordan ended in a shooting last week and felony charges could be pending for one young juvenile.

Fight escalates

Photo by: Peter Anderson

One teen was shot and another arrested after a fight broke out between two groups of teens in West Jordan last Sunday evening. The incident, which is said to not be gang-related started for unknown reasons but quickly escalated to rocks being thrown and a gun being fired. One teen was shot multiple times and luckily did not have life-threatening injuries. Another teen who was said to be a 14 year old male was arrested and could face serious charges for shooting the other teen.

Aggravated Assault or worse

Authorities have not released what charges the teen is facing however it is possible the teen could face felony charges for either aggravated assault or a more serious offense such as attempted murder. Aggravated assault is defined by Section 76-5-103 as “conduct that is:

i. an attempt, with unlawful force or violence, to do bodily injury to another;
ii. a threat, accompanied by a show of immediate force or violence, to do bodily injury to another; or
iii. an act, committed with unlawful force of violence, that causes bodily injury to another or creates a substantial risk of bodily injury to another; and

. . .that includes the use of:
i. a dangerous weapon . . . ;
ii. any act that impedes the breathing or the circulation of blood of another person. . . ;
iii. other means or force likely to produce death or serious bodily injury.

Aggravated assault is punishable as a third degree felony unless the victim is seriously injured or loses consciousness during the assault at which point the penalty faced would then be a second degree felony.

Increased charges if proven intent

If the teen pulling the trigger had better aim or had the victim been a foot more to one side, the shooting could have been deadly. Some may wonder if the risk of death from the crime would then constitute attempted murder, a first degree felony. Although shooting another individual is likely to cause death, it should not be considered attempted murder unless the shooter pulled the trigger with the intent to kill as stated in section 76-4-101. This pivotal question of intent is likely to arise during legal proceedings however which could dramatically increase the fine and prison term a defendant is facing. Anyone facing aggravated assault charges are encouraged to seek experienced legal representation immediately.

Group of Teens Suspected of Robbery in Southern Utah

A group of teens are suspected of robbery in southern Utah after the group physically attacked a man in his apartment, leaving with over two grand worth of items.

Return with criminal intent

The teens in question had been at the apartment previously and had allegedly returned to collect personal belongings. When they arrived back at the apartment the next day, they were said to be in possession of a firearm. Another resident at the apartment not present during the incident stated that the group had physically assaulted another man and threatened him with a gun before stealing several expensive items from the property.

Robbery vs armed robbery

The investigation into the robbery is still in progress and at this time police have not verified whether or not a firearm was used in the incident. Authorities do have names of the teens involved yet more information on formal charges should be forthcoming. The legal penalties for robbery are severe, yet the teens involved could face charges that are increased even more if the use of a firearm is proven. Utah Code 76-6-301 states: “A person commits robbery if:

(a) The person unlawfully and intentionally takes or attempts to take personal property in the possession of another from his person, or immediate presence, against his will, by means of force or fear, and with a purpose or intent to deprive the person permanently or temporarily of the personal property; or

(b) The person intentionally or knowingly uses force or fear of immediate force against another in the course of committing a theft or wrongful appropriation. “

Robbery is a second degree felony. If teens are found to have used a firearm during the course of the robbery or “cause[d] serious bodily injury upon another . . . “ as noted in section 76-6-302 of the Utah State Code, the charges would then be increased to aggravated robbery or armed robbery, a first degree felony.

Items of little worth

The motive for the robbery is unknown – whether or not the teens were getting back at another person for a transgression or if the teens simply wanted to gain possession of the stolen items. Regardless, revenge or the monetary value of the stolen items in the robbery are of little worth compared to the possibility of lengthy prison terms and fines up to $10,000 if the teens are tried as adults. For more information on felony charges for teens and how the legal system works regarding juvenile crime, contact a criminal defense attorney who handles cases involving teens or adults.

Utah School Resource Officer Fires Weapon into Car Full of Teenagers

A Utah school resource officer fired his weapon into a car full of teenagers in West Valley City after the teen driver accelerated his vehicle into the officer.

Situation escalated

The resource officer of a West Valley City high school was patrolling the surrounding neighborhood when he spotted a car full of boys who looked to be high school age. As he approached the car, possibly to check to see if the boys were ditching class, the officer could smell marijuana coming from the vehicle. He continued to advance toward the vehicle when the car suddenly lurched forward and hit the officer, sending him onto the hood of the vehicle. It was at that point the school resource officer chose to fire his weapon into the car full of teens, critically injuring the young driver.

Split second decisions

While the teenage driver fights for his life in the hospital, the passengers who have been identified as two students and a (possibly young) “adult” are being located and questioned in the incident. As the investigation continues, some Utah residents are questioning whether or not the officer’s use of potential deadly force was justified. Although a vehicle can be considered a deadly weapon when used to hurt someone- is that what happened? Was the teen trying to run the officer over with his vehicle or did he become startled and react by pressing the accelerator? Did the officer truly fear for his life when the car lunged forward or did he become startled and react by reaching for his firearm? Another concern from residents is whether or not the situation was dire enough for the officer, who is trained to protect students, to put the vehicle’s passengers in danger.

Teen behavior around law enforcement

Whether it is determined that the officer’s actions were justified or that his actions were extreme for the circumstances, there is still a teen who is left with life threatening injuries. As tension continues to grow between the general public and law enforcement, teens should be taught to always refrain from drastic or aggressive actions towards police for the sake of their own safety. If disagreements or concerns arise during police questioning or an arrest, it is best for teens to handle themselves in a calm manner and request the accompaniment of an attorney.

Teenager Attempts to Set off Bomb at Utah High School

Among the hundreds of teens threatening violence towards their schools over the last few weeks with five of those threats happening in Utah, one teen from southern Utah actually attempted to set off a bomb at a high school.

No warning

Photo by: Michael Rael

While many of the threats around the state and nation have been dismissed as teens wanting their spot in the limelight, one teen in southern Utah didn’t take to social media to gain attention from his peers by making a public threat-he carried out an unexpected attack that luckily didn’t work. The juvenile that hasn’t been named due to his age placed a backpack containing a homemade bomb and shrapnel in a busy lunchroom at Pine View High School in St. George. Fortunately for the possibly hundreds of students in the lunchroom at the time, the bomb malfunctioned. Another student noticed smoke coming from the bag and notified a teacher and school resource officer who removed the bomb and evacuated the school.

Criminal charges

Utah Code 76-10-402 states “A person who . . . intentionally or knowingly manufactures, possesses, sells, delivers, displays, uses, attempts to use, solicits the use of, or conspires to use a weapon of mass destruction or a delivery system for a weapon of mass destruction . . . is guilty of a first degree felony.” Due to the seriousness of the charges, the teen could face adult charges for attempting to bomb a school. He is also facing charges for vandalizing another Utah school and putting up an ISIS flag as it was determined during the investigation that he was likewise responsible for that.

Mental health for youth

Photo by: Boudewijn Berends

There is little information about the boy who attempted to bomb Pine View High School but from those that knew him, this act of terrorism came as a complete surprise. Assumptions are being made that the teen suffered from mental illnesses and along with criminal charges, many hope he receives the psychological help he needs.