Felony charges pending for Tartan students with loaded handgun

Two 16-year-old Tartan High School students could be facing serious criminal charges for reportedly bringing a loaded handgun to school and showing it off in a classroom Monday, May 11.

Classmates alerted the school resource officer to a male student who was seen holding the gun in class that afternoon. The officer quickly responded to the room and recovered a loaded, holstered, .40-caliber handgun from the boy's backpack at 2:20 p.m., according to a press release from the Oakdale Police Department.

The armed teenager told police he had received the weapon from another male Tartan student. That student reportedly brought the handgun to school from his parent's home. Both students told officers they were curious about the idea of having a gun and were showing it off.

According to police, the student in possession of the handgun readily complied with the school resource officer's orders and willingly gave up the weapon. The SRO told police he was confident there was no malicious intent involved with the incident and there were no threats of violence or conflicts with other students or staff members. 

Oakdale Police Capt. Karin Latour said the incident was still under investigation Wednesday. The two minors have not yet been charged with any crimes, but charges are pending for felony possession of a dangerous weapon on school property. Those charges will be announced once a criminal complaint has been filed.

According to Minnesota Dangerous Weapons statutes, a person convicted of a felony for knowingly possessing a firearm on school property faces a maximum prison sentence of up to five years, a fine of up to $10,000, or both.

District 622 staff will be handling the school's discipline of the two boys. 

Tartan principal Adam Ehrmantraut told the Review Wednesday that all statements concerning the incident must come from the North St. Paul-Maplewood-Oakdale School District's Administrative Office. 

Superintendent Patty Phillips said the safety of the district's students is the staff's primary concern. 

"It was fortunate the school resource officer responded so well," she said.

Phillips said state law prohibits the district from releasing more specific details about the Tartan incident during an active investigation. 

She said the district would be holding a debriefing of the event Friday morning, where staff members will evaluate how the situation was handled, and what they were pleased with and what could be improved upon if a similar situation were to occur in the future. 

-- Joshua Nielsen

 
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