Petition alleges Noblesville shooting suspect is ‘delinquent child,’ but won’t be tried as adult

Photo from scene following shooting at Noblesville West Middle School on May 25, 2018

NOBLESVILLE, Ind. – A petition was filed Tuesday that alleges the 13-year-old suspect in the recent Noblesville school shooting is a delinquent child, but he won’t be tried as an adult.

The teen, who FOX59 is not identifying because he is a juvenile, is accused of opening fire in a classroom at Noblesville West Middle School on May 25, striking 13-year-old student Ella Whistler and teacher Jason Seaman. Both victims survived.

Prosecutors say the suspect was in possession of a .22 caliber gun, a .45 caliber gun, and a knife at the time of the attack.

The petition filed by the Hamilton County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office specifically claims the suspect committed the following acts that would be felony or misdemeanor crimes if committed by an adult:

  • Attempted Murder, a Level 1 felony
  • Attempted Murder, a Level 1 felony
  • Aggravated Battery, a Level 3 felony
  • Aggravated Battery, a Level 3 felony
  • Battery by Means of a Deadly Weapon, a Level 5 felony
  • Battery by Means of a Deadly Weapon, a Level 5 felony
  • Possession of a Firearm on School Property, a Level 6 felony
  • Possession of a Firearm on School Property, a Level 6 felony
  • Dangerous Possession of a Firearm, a Class A misdemeanor
  • Dangerous Possession of a Firearm, a Class A misdemeanor
  • Possession of a Knife on School Property, a Class B misdemeanor

However, under Indiana law, a child 13 years of age can only be waived to adult court if the attempt to murder an individual is successful. In this case it was not.

“In this case, due to the heroic and extraordinary efforts of many people, including teachers, a school nurse, the Noblesville Police Department School Resource Officer, and many other first responders and medical providers, thankfully, Jason Seaman and Ella Whistler survived,” said prosecuting attorney D. Lee Buckingham, II in a press release. “This blessing results in this matter remaining in the juvenile justice system under our current laws, a result which will, I am sure, be very troubling and unsatisfying for many people.”

Ella Whistler’s family says she continues to make progress in her recovery, but she has a long road ahead.

The suspect’s initial hearing has been set for Monday at 8:30 a.m. A trial date will be established during that hearing.

The Hamilton County Circuit Court released its Decorum Order covering all open court hearings related to this case. According to the order, 56 spectator seats are available for the public (including media) and will be on a first-come, first-served basis. Doors will open 15 minutes before the hearing is scheduled to begin. No electronics are allowed, and everyone will be required to go through security.

Eskew Law, the firm representing the suspect, released the following statement:

Today the Hamilton County Prosecutor’s Office has formally filed a petition alleging delinquency against our client for the shooting that occurred at Noblesville West Middle School on May 25th, 2018.

Our firm and our client’s family are still in shock over the events that morning. Our thoughts, prayers, and condolences go out to those involved, including Ella, Mr. Seaman, all the students and staff of Noblesville school community and their families and friends. Additionally, we are thankful for the heroic first responders on the scene who provided aid and support, including Mr. Seaman and all the teachers of Noblesville West Middle School.

We understand that the public has unanswered questions at this time. We will await the outcome of the investigation and judicial process before speaking publicly about these events. We ask for patience and privacy during this process. In the meantime, we ask the public and the media to focus their well wishes and attention on Ella, Mr. Seaman and all those adversely affected by this tragedy.