Australia jails first student for a school shooting

Connie Queline

Australia jails first student for a school shooting

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A teenager has been jailed for carrying out what is thought to be Australia’s first school shooting.

The 15-year-old from Perth fired three shots with two rifles at the Atlantis Beach Baptist College last May.

Staff and students were left cowering in cupboards and under desks before police eventually arrested him.

The judge who sentenced him to three years in juvenile detention said “good luck” had “prevented a tragic outcome”.

No one was hurt in the incident that is believed the shooting is the first of its kind in Australia.

Lawyers and Perth Children’s Court Judge Hylton Quail were unable to find any record of a similar case anywhere in the nation.

Simon Freitag, the boy’s lawyer, had asked Judge Quail to consider a non-custodial term as his client was suffering from depression at the time and had undiagnosed autism spectrum disorder.

He added that the boy was despondent due to a failed relationship and rumours that were being spread about him.

Two of the shots he fired struck buildings as the school, located in Perth’s northern suburbs, went into lockdown. The age of its students ranges from six to 16.

The boy then called police and said he intended to “kill people and myself”, but had changed his mind as he did not want his siblings to be related to a killer. Police then arrived and arrested him.

He had taken two hunting rifles and ammunition from his father’s gun cabinet and driven to the college’s car park, where he opened fire on 24 May 2023.

Local media reported that one teacher later told police she had never been so scared, and texted her fiance while in hiding to say she loved them.

State prosecutors said one student “ran for his life”. Another lay down on the grass behind a backpack – a teacher who saw the student thought they had been shot.

At a plea hearing last week, the court was told that in the 18 days before the incident, the boy had searched on the Internet about subjects such as school shootings, gun deaths and the age of criminal responsibility in Western Australia. He searched for phrases such as “are there school shootings in Australia” and “what happens to mass murderers in Australia”.

On the social media app Discord, he also discussed shooting guns at the school with a friend. The night before the incident, he warned the friend not to go to school – but the friend did not believe him as he had never carried out his past threats.

Last December, he pleaded guilty to multiple charges. They include endangering the lives of staff and students, discharging a firearm to cause fear, possessing firearms and ammunition and driving without a licence.

His lawyer Mr Freitag said at the time that the mental impact on those at the school would weigh heavily.

“I do need to say out loud the very obvious point that this has caused significant fear and distress,” he said.

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