(NOBLESVILLE, Ind.) – The gunman in the Noblesville school shooting has been ordered into state custody until age 18.
Hamilton Circuit Judge Paul Felix told the 13-year-old boy he “rejects” the boy’s statement of remorse at a hearing last week as insincere. He says he noticed the boy covering a laugh at one point during that hearing, and says it “shakes him” to realize the teenager came to Noblesville West Middle School in May with 100 bullets and intended to use them.
The gunman wounded classmate Ella Whistler and science teacher Jason Seaman before Seaman tackled him. Felix says everyone in Noblesville got up that morning expecting a normal day — in Ella’s case, he says she undoubtedly washed her own hair and fastened her own buttons or snaps while getting dressed. Ella has returned to school, but Felix says those are tasks she now needs assistance with.
The teenager will be housed with about 30 other patients at a secure behavioral-health treatment facility in Dyer. Felix says it was the only treatment facility that would accept him. It’s up to the state prison department to decide when the boy has made enough progress to be released, but under state law, he can’t be held past his 18th birthday in April 2023.
“I think the whole community, given the acts that day, will be concerned when he’s released,” Hamilton County Prosecutor Lee Buckingham says. He and defense lawyers declined to speculate on the effectiveness of treatment, though Felix noted disapprovingly that an incident in which the boy built a Lego gun while in custody came after a week of therapy.
Defense attorney Chris Eskew says he believes his client wants to benefit from treatment, and says he thinks the boy’s apology statement was genuine, though he concedes his client is “a hard kid to read.”
Under Indiana law, 13-year-olds can’t be tried as adults except for the most serious crimes. Because no one died, the shooting didn’t qualify. Felix says if the gunman had taken anything from anyone during the shooting, prosecutors theoretically could have charged him with armed robbery as an adult.
The judge told the gunman he “took this community’s sense of safety. You stole a teenager’s exuberance. You stole a girl’s ability to play sports and to take care of herself.”
PHOTO: Eric Berman/Emmis