Australian teen sentenced to 3 years in juvenile detention for nation's first school shooting

Feb. 29 (UPI) -- A 15-year-old Australian boy was sentenced to three years in juvenile detention Thursday after he pleaded guilty to opening fire at a school in the Perth suburbs in May in the country's first-ever school shooting.

Handing down the sentence in Perth Children's Court, Judge Hylton Quail told the boy, whose name was not released because of his age, that striking fear into and endangering the safety of others was "extremely serious and wicked" and that the fact no one had been injured or killed was due to good luck alone.


The boy fired three rounds from two hunting rifles at Atlantis Beach Baptist College, forcing students and teachers to run for cover in an incident Quail said "would have caused the blood of every student and likely every person in Western Australia to run cold."

"We have never seen anything like this before," the judge said.


The boy initially targeted a teacher and three students in a grassy area on the school grounds firing directly at them with one child hit on the back of the head by sod thrown up from a bullet hitting the ground nearby.

Another child lay prone on the ground, hiding behind their school bag. Fearing the child had been shot, the teacher risked their life to go check if they were hurt.

A third child reported seeing a gun directed at the teacher and students through the school fence before fleeing to safety.

Quail said given the 15-year-old's experience with handling rifles to shoot kangaroos and rabbits, he could have very easily killed someone if he had chosen to do so, although two of the bullets he fired passed through classrooms.

The outcome could have been very different had students been inside the rooms, the judge said, and that it was only through good fortune that fatalities had been avoided.

Quail said he accepted that the boy had backed away from murder-suicide, after calling Australia's emergency line 001 and telling the police dispatcher he did not want his brothers and sisters to be "the sibling of a killer," and did not want to die.


In addition to discharging a firearm to cause fear and endangering the lives of school staff and pupils, the boy also admitted firearms and ammunition possession offenses and driving without a license.

The judge said he had taken into account that he had since been diagnosed with autism but rejected the defense's plea for a non-custodial sentence, pointing out that other children with more severe cases had been brought before the court but while many were angry at the world, none had "planned to kill others."

Fear and distress of those at the school and in the wider community caused by the boy's actions were an aggravating factor but Quail ruled he could be eligible for parole in 16 months, provided his rehabilitation went well.

A hearing last week heard internet searches by the boy on information about school shootings, gun deaths and the age of criminal responsibility in Western Australia, including the search terms "are there school shootings in Australia" and "what happens to mass murderers in Australia".

He also discussed shooting guns at the school with a friend on social media warning them to stay away from school the night before the attack.

In the United States, where school shootings are a much more frequent occurrence, a student was wounded by police in an attempted shooting last week at a public charter school for children with learning differences near Dallas, Texas.


Law enforcement "attempted to negotiate" with the unidentified student armed with a gun on the Oates Campus of the Pioneer Technology and Arts Academy in Mesquite before shots were fired and the student was taken to hospital for "injuries sustained during the incident."

In a first earlier this month, a Michigan jury convicted the mother of a student who shot four teens dead in 2021 at Oxford High School in the Detroit suburbs of four counts of involuntary manslaughter, the first time in U.S. history a parent has been held legally responsible for a shooting committed by their child.

Jennifer Crumbley faces up to 15 years in prison when she is sentenced in April in connection with the shooting carried out by her son, Ethan, using a semi-automatic weapon. Father, James Crumbley, is set to go on trial on involuntary manslaughter charges in March.

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