NOBLESVILLE, Ind.– Due to a shroud of secrecy drawn around the May 25 Noblesville West Middle School shooting case, the public remains in the dark regarding several key facts of the allegations against a teenager accused of wounding his teacher and a classmate.
“No adults are being held accountable for what happened here,” said Indianapolis attorney Jack Crawford, a Hamilton County resident who has heard the concerns of his neighbors and friends. “They want to know all the facts, the people I talk to, most particularly, how did a 13-year-old shooter get the guns? Where did he get them? How did he get access to them and, most importantly, how did he get them into the school?”
The authority to answer those questions, along with explaining the suspect’s alleged motivations, lies with Hamilton County Prosecutor Lee Buckingham who as recently as Monday refused comment as he left court following the boy’s juvenile detention hearing.
In announcing eleven charges, including two counts of attempted murder, against the boy last week, Buckingham added that because of the child’s age and, more importantly, the survival of his alleged victims, “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.”
“This is a case where accountability by some adult, I think, is required,” said Crawford. “The public has a legitimate and important interest in knowing what occurred here in order to prevent it from happening again and I think that interest is paramount. I think the public has to know.”
The origin of the guns is a vital clue known only to investigators and the owners of the .22 and .45 caliber handguns the child is accused of carrying into his classroom that Friday morning.
The delinquency petition filed by the prosecutor accused the boy of wounding teacher Jason Seaman and classmate Ella Whistler with shots fired from the .22.
Federal agents and local police carried out a search warrant at the home of the teen’s parents the day of the shooting but it is unknown if any evidence was recovered.
Second Amendment Attorney Guy Relford said Indiana law makes it doubtful that any gun provider could be charged in connection with this case if there was no knowledge that the child was going to commit a criminal act.
“I think a lot of us want to look at it to say, ‘Where does the fault lie?’ and, ‘Where does criminal culpability lie?’ and, ‘Lets hold people responsible who had a criminal role in this.’ If it’s not criminal, so be it, but we need to know the facts before we can offer an opinion on that.
“If, for instance, this kid had made threats of violence in the past, he had expressed an intent to hurt someone else with a gun, in particular or generally, and then that gun then is not securely stored, sure, I could see charges being filed.
“You can’t permit a kid to acquire a gun…if you are aware that the kid intends to use it for some dangerous violent act.
“Where (an adult) permits a child to possess a firearm with knowledge that that child may use that firearm to commit a violent act, including an act that would be a felony if the child would be an adult, that (adult) can be prosecuted.”
Relford said, in general, there is no Indiana law that requires the owner of a firearm to keep that gun secure, though parents of small children who accidentally shoot themselves or others have been charged with neglect.
“I think that’s a matter of personal responsibility. I don’t know that I would support, for instance, a law that starts taking that discretion and responsibility away from individuals,” he said. “In Marion County there were 1,700 guns stolen last year and it’s our fault, and by ‘our’ I mean gun owners, and I don’t think there is any question gun owners need to do a better job in securing their firearms.”
The child is due back in court on June 25 for first of a two-day contested fact finding hearing, which would essentially be the boy’s trial.
Defense Attorney Ben Jaffe told FOX59 he will almost certainly be seeking a delay in that hearing.
Should the case end in a plea agreement with his client that could conceivably send the boy to a state juvenile facility for the remainder of his teenage years, it is possible full details of the child’s alleged motivation and background and his acquisition of the firearms may never been known unless the victims were to file civil lawsuits against the school district or the suspect’s family and seek further information through the discovery process.