This archived news story is available only for your personal, non-commercial use. Information in the story may be outdated or superseded by additional information. Reading or replaying the story in its archived form does not constitute a republication of the story.
FARMINGTON, Utah (AP) — A Utah teenager who fired a shotgun in a junior high classroom, igniting panic among kids and their parents, was dealing with great pain and had an adverse reaction to an antidepressant drug he had recently been prescribed, his attorney and family said Thursday during his sentencing.
The 15-year-old was sentenced to an undetermined amount of time in a juvenile treatment facility after pleading guilty earlier this month to two felony charges: theft of a firearm and shooting toward a building.
No one was hurt in the Dec. 1 incident in Bountiful. His parents followed him to school after noticing a shotgun was missing and disarmed him before police arrived.
Several of his friends came to court Thursday to tell Utah juvenile court Judge Janice Frost that the teenager is a kind, sensitive boy who didn't know how to deal with terrible pain and would never hurt anybody. Defense attorney Lindsay Jarvis said he was actually hoping to be shot by police.
"We've got a young man reaching out saying, 'Help me, help me,' and the help just wasn't there," Jarvis said.
Frost said at the hearing in Farmington that she hopes boy gets help, but that he must also be accountable for depriving parents and children of their sense of security at school.
"The first time I saw you in detention you told me you had screwed up," said Frost, speaking to the boy, "and you did, in a very unfortunate way."
The teen's time in the confined quarters of the treatment center will depend on how well he does with his treatment and therapy, Frost said. Jarvis said she's hopeful he'll be out within a year.
The teenager, who the Associated Press isn't naming because of his age, didn't speak.
His father said his son was in great pain and made a horrible decision that day. He apologized to all the students and their parents impacted by the incident.
"It was completely against his character and his nature," said the father. "He was in so much pain that it blocked his ability to empathize with others."
The AP is not naming the father to protect the boy's identity.
Davis County Deputy District Attorney Ryan Perkins disputed the account from Jarvis and the boy's friends and family that he wasn't trying to hurt anybody. Perkins said the teen had a propensity for violence, including an unspecified previous incident in Vernal in 2014.
Jarvis said that incident was just the teen expressing more hurt and was handled by the school district there.
Ranae Hart, a victim advocate for Davis County, said that the Bountiful shooting continues to impact the entire school community. Some students are still suffering from the experience, unable to sleep and reacting to any loud noise.
She said those students and parents chose not to speak at the hearing over fears of retaliation from the teenager.
"This has been terrifying for them," Hart said.
Hart asked on behalf of the families that he never be allowed to return to the school, a request his parents agreed to.
The teen's therapist, Lee Perry, said the Prozac the boy had been given triggered an adverse reaction that only worsened his depression. Since changing his medication after the incident, he's been making improvements, Perry said.
Jarvis declined to elaborate on what triggered teen's pain, citing the need to protect his ability to rehabilitate.
She said she and the parents are satisfied that the teen will stay out of the adult court system and be given a chance to get treatment.
"Hopefully the community can get a little bit of peace and he can get some help," Jarvis said.
Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.