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3 Boys Held in Schoolyard Shooting Plot

A loaded gun buried in a playground sandbox leads to the arrest of suspects, ages 8 and 11.

March 19, 2004|From Associated Press

FORSYTH, Mont. — Two 8-year-old boys and an 11-year-old schoolmate were arrested after they buried a loaded handgun in a playground sandbox and plotted to shoot and stab a third-grade girl during recess, authorities said Thursday.

Sheriff Tim Fulton said the boys told investigators they intended to harm the young girl because she had teased two of them.

The plot was uncovered Wednesday morning, about half an hour before recess, when another student alerted school officials, said Michael Hayworth, the Rosebud County attorney.

The gun, a .22-caliber revolver, had two bullets in it, Hayworth said. School Supt. Dave Shreeve said a box of bullets was found nearby.

The boys were charged Thursday in juvenile court with conspiracy to commit assault with a weapon.

"From the interviews [with investigators] I don't believe that they fully comprehended the full significance of their actions," Hayworth said. "But they understood that this was going to bring harm to her ... and they intended that."

In a court affidavit, Hayworth said one boy apparently brought the gun to school Wednesday morning and buried it in the sandbox, while another brought a paring knife from home. Authorities initially said the paring knife also was hidden in the sandbox, but Hayworth said in an affidavit that one of the boys had the knife in his possession when questioned by school officials.

Forsyth is about 100 miles east of Billings. The school has about 200 students in kindergarten through the sixth grade.

Many of the parents arriving to pick up their children Thursday said they were not aware of the incident until they heard news reports of it.

Brenda Stabelfeldt, who has a daughter in the fifth grade, said she found out about the incident Thursday morning from another parent. The school was sending letters home with students on Thursday, and had a counselor available during the day to talk to any students. The letter urged parents in this rural area to lock their firearms and store bullets separately.

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