Judge sets restrictions on student who brought gun to Patti Welder Middle School

Jessica Priest By Jessica Priest

Feb. 6, 2014 at 8:03 p.m.
Updated Feb. 6, 2014 at 8:07 p.m.

A student who brought a small-caliber handgun to Patti Welder Middle School was released Thursday to his father.

The 13-year-old student had a detention hearing before Judge Daniel Gilliam.

He has been held at the Victoria Regional Juvenile Justice Center since Jan. 22, said Pama Hencerling, the chief probation officer.

Hencerling said Gilliam placed the juvenile under some restrictions, which could include a 7 p.m. curfew, wearing an electronic monitoring device and abstaining from drugs or alcohol.

No one testified at the hearing, said Assistant District Attorney Allison Marek.

Marek has not received the complaint against the juvenile from the Victoria County Sheriff's Office, so he has not been formally charged.

He could be charged with having a weapon in a prohibited place, which can range anywhere from a Class A misdemeanor to a third-degree felony, Marek said, adding she will make the decision in the next few weeks.

Gilliam closed the hearing to the public because the juvenile is under the age of 14.

His name is not known because juvenile records are confidential by law.

A juvenile may be detained for 10 working days. Then, if he or she racks up incident reports for misbehaving or are believed to be a danger to him or herself or others, a judge may hold a hearing to determine whether to detain him or her longer, Marek said.

The boy's attorney, Brent Dornburg, said the student was expelled from school but may start attending an alternative campus.

The gun was not loaded, Dornburg said.

"There wasn't a plot or a scheme or a reason he was bringing the gun to school that I'm aware of," he said.

The juvenile and one of his friends somehow forcibly removed the lock to the safe where his father kept the gun, Dornburg said.

"His father was doing everything he was supposed to under the law," he said.

Students told school administrators about the gun, and the seventh-grader was on the school's athletic field when authorities detained him.

No one was injured, according to an earlier report.

Victoria school district spokeswoman Diane Boyett said she could not comment about whether the student would return to Patti Welder or what punishment he could receive because of privacy reasons.

She said the consequences will comply with federal and state statutes, and she pointed to pages 27 and 28 of the student code of conduct, which deals with how the district handles students who are being prosecuted for assault, deadly conduct and certain drug offenses, among other things.

The incident reinforced what administrators already know, Boyett said.

"We have students who are taking responsibility and stepping up when they know or when they suspect something is amiss," she said.

Parents are also urged to report any potential dangers to schools immediately.

A school resource officer is stationed at Patti Welder Middle School, she said.



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