Utah Students Arrested for Making Terrorist Threats against High School

Three Utah students from Duchesne were arrested for making terrorist threats against their high school after other teens reported the plan to school officials.

Planned shooting and explosion

Photo by: Tony Webster

The three Utah teens, ranging in ages between 14 and 15 were arrested for making terrorist threats after they made plans to build and use a firearm and explosives at their school. Other teens found out about the plan and alerted school officials who immediately contacted authorities and put the school on lockdown. Although no firearms or weapons of mass destruction were found in the boy’s possession or in their lockers or home, authorities did confiscate a couple knives as well as written plans on building an explosive device. The boys were arrested for making terrorist threats and taken to a juvenile detention center.

Terrorist threats

Utah Code 76-5-107.3 states a person makes [terrorist threats] if the person threatens to commit any offense involving bodily injury, death, or substantial property damage, and:

(a) (i) threatens the use of a weapon of mass destruction . . . ; or

(ii) threatens the use of a hoax weapon of mass destruction . . . ; or

(b) acts with intent to:

(i) intimidate or coerce a civilian population or to influence or affect the conduct of a government or a unit of government;

(ii) prevent or interrupt the occupation of a building or a portion of the building, a place to which the public has access, or a facility or vehicle of public transportation operated by a common carrier; or

(iii)cause an official or volunteer agency organized to deal with emergencies to take action due to the person’s conduct posing a serious and substantial risk to the general public.”

Making terrorist threats can result in penalties ranging from a class B misdemeanor to a second degree felony. Threatening to use an explosive on the population of a high school is liable to bring about the higher of those charges.

Motive

At this time there is no known motive as to why the three teens would want to set off explosives at their school. Are they violent individuals who truly wanted to inflict as much pain and damage as possible to their school and peers? Were they acting out towards peers who had bullied or harassed them? Or perhaps this was a troubled attempt for them to gain the attention of their parents, teachers or classmates. As the investigation continues, more will come to light on the mental stability of the teens involved and whether or not this was an actual threat or a petition for help. For more information on crimes committed by teens and how mental health evaluation plays a role in punishment for those crimes, contact a juvenile defense attorney.

Utah Gun Laws for Kids

Most parents in Utah do not let their kids have continual access to any gun yet others may be more comfortable with their older, experienced children handling certain firearms with or without parental supervision.

Possession of a dangerous weapon by minor

Gun Cabinet
Photo by: Mitch Barrie

According to Utah Code 76-10-509, kids under 14 must have a responsible adult with them to possess a weapon. In regards to older teens, ”a minor under 18 years of age may not possess a dangerous weapon unless he has the permission of his parent” or “is accompanied by a parent.” This states that a teen 14 to 18 years old may be in possession of a firearm even if the parents are not around.

Small print, different section

When reading the above section of the Utah Code, parents may fall under the false assumption that this section applies toward all weapons including any type of firearm, therefore letting their kids over 14 access whatever they want to in the family gun cabinet. Unknown to the parents however is there is another section to the Utah Code that states they may in fact be breaking the law.

Sorry not THOSE weapons

Kid with Handgun
Photo by: OakleyOriginals

The very next section of the Utah Code is 76-10-509.4 which specifies certain prohibitions on the types of guns a minor can possess. In Subsection 1 it states “A minor under 18 years of age may not possess a handgun”. Subsection 2 adds, they are also not permitted to possess a shortened rifle, shotgun, or fully automatic weapon. Violation of subsection 1 is a class B misdemeanor or a class A misdemeanor for repeat offenses. Violation of subsection 2 is a 3rd degree felony. A parent allowing their child to be in possession of a handgun is likely to face charges as well.

Study gun laws thoroughly

Although Utah gun laws may be more lenient than other states, it is important to fully understand ALL laws regarding guns and other weapons before allowing minors near them. Failure to read all laws regarding guns and weapons may end in criminal charges for both parent and child. It is also important to know your child and whether or not they are mature and stable enough to possess a weapon.

Utah Teen Shoots Himself in Leg, Discharging a Firearm in City Limits

A Logan, Utah teen may be in trouble for discharging a firearm in city limits after he accidentally shot himself in the leg while cleaning a gun.

Cleaning a loaded weapon

jeramiah.andrick
jeramiah.andrick

The 16 year old boy was home alone cleaning an unknowingly loaded .40 caliber handgun when the firearm went off, sending a bullet through his leg near his knee and then into an adjacent apartment. The teenager was able to contact his grandmother who called 911 to attend to the boy’s gunshot wound. Thankfully, he is expected to make a full recovery and no one in the neighboring apartment was hurt by the stray bullet.

Gun safety

The Logan teenager is fortunate that the bullet didn’t kill him or harm someone else nearby. Although state law allows teenagers to possess certain types of firearms with and sometimes without a parent nearby, it is important for parents to teach gun safety to their children or enroll them in appropriate classes. It is also wise to discuss whether handling of weapons when no adult is nearby is safe or even legal.

Discharging a firearm in city limits

It is assumed at this time that the self-inflicted gunshot wound was accidental, yet the 16 year old teenager is still being investigated as discharging a firearm in city limits is against the law, accident or no accident. Logan Utah ordinance 9.28.010 states “It is unlawful for any person to discharge any firearm within the limits of the city, except in defense of person or property or in the case of any peace officer or city employee in the discharge of such person’s duty.”

An age of mistakes

With multiple surgeries scheduled to repair the damage done to his knee area, the teen is already paying a high price for his mistake. It was not his intention of discharging a firearm in city limits, and criminal charges would serve little purpose at this time. A juvenile defense attorney knows that and can help the youth and their family fight for fairness and understanding in court.

Instagram Post by Teen a Terrorist Threat

An Instagram post quoting song lyrics landed a teen in juvenile detention for making a terrorist threat.

Be careful what you post online

Photo by: José Moutinho
Photo by: José Moutinho

The 15 year old sophomore at San Joaquin Memorial High in Fresno, California posted lyrics on Instagram from the song “I’m Back” by rapper Eminem. The song has plenty of profanity mixed within the disturbing lyrics, but the segment that the teen chose to quote referenced the shooting at Columbine High School back in 1999. School officials found out about the Instagram post and considered it a terrorist threat to their school.

Posting lyrics when you can’t find the words

Lyrics on a Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram post are popular among the teen crowd who often like to voice their feelings through the words of popular songs. Often these posts are recognized by peers as nothing more than quoting a favorite song while family members and other caring adults see them as cries for help. When the lyrics talk about violent acts to groups of people such as schoolmates, police can get involved to rule out a terrorist threat.

Possession of firearms didn’t help

The teen could have passed the Instagram post off as merely quoting a cool song, however the teen’s comments on the Instagram post made it appear like something more. Added to that, the fact that several weapons were found at the 15 year old’s home cemented police suspicion of a terrorist threat. Teen’s need to be aware of anything that they post online, and refrain from posting words, pictures, or videos that could get them in trouble. For information on charges based on posts to teen’s social media accounts such as Instagram, contact a juvenile defense attorney.