GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — The student accused of bringing a gun to a Grand Rapids high school last week faces charges of carrying a concealed weapon and having a gun in a school weapons-free zone.
The 15-year-old, who 24 Hour News 8 is not naming, was in juvenile court Monday for a preliminary hearing, which he attended via video from the Kent County Juvenile Detention Center.
At the hearing, an officer testified the suspect brought the gun to school because he felt threatened.
“There are some concerns about some of his friends being involved in a street gang,” the officer told referee Nick Koster. “That may be the underlying factor as to why he felt he had the need to possess a gun at school as he felt there were some threats on his life.”
When asked if their grandson was in a gang, the suspect’s grandparents both responded with an emphatic no.
“He has no affiliation with any gang. He’s not the type of kid that his mom would allow out 12, 1 o’clock at night,” grandmother Chandra Lane told 24 Hour News 8. “You can’t protect who your children know but he has no gang affiliation.”
“He was afraid for his own life and he apparently didn’t feel like he had anyone in the school system that he could go and talk to,” Donald Lane, the suspect’s grandfather, told 24 Hour News 8. “My concern is what makes a child so scared here in little Grand Rapids — I’m from Houston — that they have to have a weapon or something at school?”
The teen was arrested Friday at Union High School. Security guards spotted him around 10:30 a.m. after he had been absent from school for more than a week. GRPS staff told 24 Hour News 8 they had been informed he had recently displayed a gun at a party.
“[He] never had a gun. We don’t have any guns anything,” said Donald Lane. “I don’t know where it comes from.”
When security guards went up to the teen and asked him to go to the office. He refused and a scuffle ensued, at which point the .38-caliber revolver fell loose. 24 Hour News 8 was told that the gun was not to be loaded, though authorities said in court Monday the teen had ammunition with him at school.
“He’s already said that he understands what has happened,” Chandra Lane, the suspect’s grandmother, said. “He is sorry. We’re sorry. … He’s not a bad kid. He’s made some horrible choices, but he’s not a bad kid.”
His grandparents said their family noticed changes in behavior and tried to get him help, but were unable to because he does not have much of a criminal history. 24 Hour News 8 learned Monday that he had faced retail fraud charges a year ago, but that those charges were diverted.
“The question was, ‘Has he committed any crimes?’ and we were, ‘No, he hasn’t committed a crime, but we’re noticing some changes in him,'” Chandra Lane said. “We’re trying to get him help to get ahead of it.”
The referee heard testimony that stated the teen had been in counseling prior to Friday’s incident.
The suspect’s grandparents also told 24 Hour News 8 that neither they nor the suspect’s mother were notified that the suspect may have a gun before Friday morning’s incident.
“Everything seems like it was a reactive versus a proactive, and that’s what scares us,” Chandra Lane said. “Not just for him. Yes, we’re hurting because we’ve never encountered this with our kids, and if I was on the other side of this with other parents I would be concerned, too, you know, but let’s be more proactive. If you know something, why would you wait to get to this point?”
GRPS officials declined to comment on the ongoing investigation on camera but did tell 24 Hour News 8 “efforts were made to get a hold of parents” before the Friday morning incident.
The suspect is suspended from school pending a hearing. He is not allowed to be on GRPS grounds.
The teen was bound over to stand trial on the charges. His bond was set at $15,000.