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St. George police investigate reports of gun fired in middle school bathroom

Police say two 14-year-old boys took a gun into a bathroom at Desert Hills Middle School in St. George and accidentally fired a round.

Police say two 14-year-old boys took a gun into a bathroom at Desert Hills Middle School in St. George and accidentally fired a round. (Washington County School District)

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ST. GEORGE — Two 14-year-old boys are being investigated by St. George police for allegedly bringing a gun into a middle school and accidentally firing a round in the bathroom in October.

No one was injured in the shooting, which happened after school hours when no students or teachers were in the building, according to a spokesman with the Washington County School District.

School administrators and police didn't find out about the incident for about three weeks.

The investigation began Oct. 19 when the school resource officer for Desert Hills Middle School received two reports from concerned parents about two boys bringing a gun into the school. The parents claimed that the boys were in a school bathroom on Saturday, Oct. 1, and a round was discharged into the floor.

Washington County School District spokesman Steven Dunham said there was a sporting event happening at the school at the time, which may be why the bathrooms were open. But he said no classes were being held and the district does not believe the boys had any intent to harm other students.

On Oct. 20, police went to the bathroom and "collected several bronze and silver pieces believed to be bullet fragments from the bathroom wall," according to a search warrant affidavit.

Officers then reviewed surveillance video recorded on Oct. 1 about 7 p.m. and observed the two boys "going into the bathroom together for several minutes and then quickly exiting. (One boy) returns to the bathroom for a brief moment and then quickly leaves," the affidavit states.

During the investigation, another witness came forward to police to report that one of the boys admitted to him while the two were playing video games that he had accidentally fired a round in the bathroom, according to police.

Police then interviewed one of the teens who claimed he went into the bathroom because the other boy told him he wanted to show him something.

"Once they were inside the bathroom, (the boy) showed him a gun. At this point, (the boy) accidentally fired the gun into the bathroom floor and left," the affidavit states.

When police served a search warrant at the home of the boy who had the gun, they found ammunition in the boy's room. An officer then "began interviewing him and he made a statement about taking a gun from a vehicle," according to the warrant.

At that point, the boy's mother said she did not want her son answering any more questions without a lawyer present.

As of Thursday, St. George police were investigating whether the boys could be connected to a series of vehicle burglaries in the area of 3400 S. River Road in the weeks leading up to the shooting.

The school district declined Thursday to say what, if any, disciplinary action it had taken against the boys.

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Utah K-12 educationPolice & CourtsUtahSouthern Utah
Pat Reavy is a longtime police and courts reporter. He joined the team in 2021, after many years of reporting at the Deseret News and KSL NewsRadio before that.


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