Police are now saying the 15 year-old suspect had a 12-gauge shotgun and a 9mm handgun with him that he concealed underneath a long coat as he walked to school this morning.
They say the ordeal took place just as school was set to begin. His parents concerned, about him and realizing two weapons were missing, were on campus when the shot was fired as they looked for their son.
Police say the suspect walked into a science class, without saying a word fired one round into the ceiling–he did not point the gun at anyone. Police say he then placed the gun to his neck, and it appears he may have been trying to commit suicide.
Ross says a teacher and student were able to talk him long enough to distract him giving his mom enough time to intervene.
Police say the 15 year-old was taken to Farmington Bay Youth Center and is facing misdemeanor charges with possibility of other charges being filed including felonies.
Investigators are still trying to figure out how the suspect was able to get possession of the weapons. They say the guns were stored in a safe inside the home.
“Our community should feel comfortable and confident in the police department,” said Chief Ross. “We have prepared for this over the years since Columbine.”
They say they hold regular drills and scenarios like these with agencies across counties and today’s incident shows those drills paid off. Over 100 members of law enforcement from several agencies descended on the scene within minutes of calls coming in.
Dispatch received about 35 calls about the incident and just as many text.
ABC4 News will continue to follow this story and provide more details as they become available.
BOUNTIFUL, Utah (ABC4 Utah)- A 15 year-old is in custody after police respond to Mueller Park Junior High School in Bountiful on reports of shots fired.
Police received multiple calls about shots fired at the school near 900 East 1800 South around 8:30 this morning.
Bountiful City Police Chief Tom Ross said it was the boys parents who stopped what could have bcome a worse situation.
According to Ross, the parents were concerned about their sons behavior and noticed two guns missing from their home. They rushed to the school where police say the student fired one shot inside of a classroom and ran into the hallway. He say the parents themselves disarmed their son.
“The parents of this individual, concerned about what might occur…had also come to the school and in looking for their child heard the gunshot and actually apprehended and disarmed this individual,” said Chief Ross.”
“Two weapons were recovered — a shotgun and a handgun — and as I mentioned the suspect was taken safely into custody without incident. There were no injuries to anyone at the school.”
The news of the shooting quickly spread through the school by students texting each other and through social media.
“I just got text messages and I was just like freaking out ’cause I didn’t think that, especially in Utah, that somebody would do that here in our school,” said 9th grader Olivia Devey. “Our whole cheer team was texting everyone and we were all staying in touch.”
9th grader, Kirsten Nielsen was involved in a group text where students were talking about what had just taken place.
“We kinda knew what was going on but at first the police said not to say anything about it,” she said.
Other students we spoke to identified the 15-year-old male to ABC4 News but we will not be releasing his name.
Students we spoke to said the suspect allegedly had two firearms, a shotgun and a pistol, and it was the shotgun that he had used to fire in to the ceiling of his chemistry classroom. Students allege the boy was upset about a bad grade on a science test and say he had even texted friends not to come to school today.
“She said that he came into the classroom and shot the ceiling and then threatened to shoot everyone else,” said Nielsen who is quoting her friend who was in the classroom where the shots were allegedly fired.
“He’s only in one of my classes and he’s not, he’s kinda quiet and he really only talks to a few people that are his friends, I don’t know him too well,” said Devey about the alleged suspect.
A police officer nearby heard the call come through dispatch, fortunately, he was down the road and arrived within seconds. Police say the officer arrived to find the suspect pinned down to the floor by his parents and was taken into custody.
Soon after the shots were fired the school was immediately placed on lockdown and students were ordered to stay in place.
“Law enforcement has been working with the school district throughout the morning. First of all securing the school took us an amount of time because there was a backpack sitting in the hallway and we wanted to make sure there were no explosives or any other risks to the students,” said Chief Ross.
“Our teacher just closed off the blinds and closed both doors…so we just took down and everyone got down and sat on the floor,” says Devey.
Outside parents began arriving in crowds gathering across the street, many in tears, others hugging, cell phones in their hands and up to their ears trying to make contact with their children inside.
“I just got a phone call from my daughter saying they’re back inside their classrooms, they had to walk out of their classrooms with their hands above their head and clear out and they’re just waiting to get the clear to come home,” said Suzanne Ratta.
“He texted me and said, ‘Mom this is not a drill, I heard a gun,” said Stephanie Neslen about a text she received from her son shortly after the shots were fired.
At first they believed it was a drill but when Neslen wasn’t alerted about a drill — as is procedure at the school, she said — she became worried and immediately rushed to the school.
“It was pretty distressing, I was on my way to work and I turned around immediately and came to get him,” she said.
For her, the drive to the school felt like the longest drive of her life.
“Just the worst fear, I mean you just don’t think something like that is gonna happen hear in Utah we feel pretty safe here,” she said. “It was just shock I couldn’t believe it.”
Lockdown procedure dictates teachers are to lock classrooms and wait inside. Law enforcement along with a school official will then go through the school, classroom-by-classroom, and clear each room. Law enforcement does this to check every crawl space and area they think a threat may be present. Police have confirmed there is no longer a threat at the school.
“You don’t want anything to happen on your watch and this department did a great job. You have to put a school on lockdown, you have to go through every classroom to make sure that everything is good and not only Bountiful PD but law enforcement throughout the county came here and my hats off to them,” said Davis County School District Spokesperson Chris Williams.
Per school officials school will resume as normal but parents who are looking to sign their students out from class can do so at the LDS Church across the street from the school near 900 E and 1800 S.
Early this morning hundreds of parents gathered inside signing up on a list with their child’s name. As the lockdown order was lifted around 11:00 a.m. students were walked by police officers in groups down towards the church where their parents were waiting.
“It sounds like they handled everything really well,” said Neslen. “My sons texting me and says they’re safe and he says they’re talking about it and everything’s OK, so that’s comforting.” She goes on to add, “I’m so grateful whoever that was that took care of that and I want to thank our law enforcement…I’m very appreciative of what they do for us.”
This morning school officials, law enforcement, and parents are so thankful for the quick actions of the suspects parents and police in helping prevent what could have been a much more serious and possibly deadly incident.
“I’m extremely grateful for the response from our professionals, we had well over 100 law enforcement, and emergency personnel, public safety officials — as you can see at the school — and we did what I think a community would expect,” said Chief Ross. “I’m also extremely grateful for the parents for their involvement and the fact that this ended without any loss of life and as we continue to investigate and gather information we’ll release additional details.”