Teen gets year of probation in Evergreen High gun incident

He brought rifle/shotgun to school with plans to sell it

By Paris Achen, Columbian courts reporter

Published:

Updated: January 2, 2013, 6:12 PM

 

A 15-year-old boy, who brought his father’s combination rifle/shotgun to Evergreen High School on Dec. 12 with plans to sell it, was sentenced Wednesday to 30 days of detention, one year of probation and 40 days of community service.

Wyatt Michael Ball of Vancouver will receive credit for the 21 days he’s already served in Clark County Juvenile Detention. He could be released as early as Saturday, depending on whether he earns additional credit for good behavior, said Deputy Prosecutor Rick Olson.

Olson told Clark County Superior Court Judge John Wulle Wednesday that Ball appeared to be naive about the gravity of his actions.

The discovery of the rifle, with an interchangeable barrel that enables it to also function as a shotgun, prompted the evacuation of the high school and widespread alarm in a metro area that had experienced a fatal shooting the day before at Clackamas Town Center in the Portland area. Four other schools also were locked down.

“When the school was first locked down, Wyatt said he didn’t think it was because of him bringing the gun to school,” Olson said.

Ball was unaware of the shooting at Clackamas Town Center because he had been grounded from electronics, said his defense attorney, Gayle Ihringer.

“This is not an issue of him being a copycat,” Ihringer said.

She said his parents had noticed Ball was spending time with a peer group that engaged in undesirable behavior, including underage marijuana use, and that they had attempted to separate him from the group.

Ball also had been going through a difficult time after the death of his biological father and bullying at school, Ihringer said.

His mother, Angela Ball, said she and his adopted father accepted their responsibility for failing to prevent access to the firearm and have taken steps to correct it, including the purchase of a trigger lock.

Wyatt Ball was arrested and expelled from school after a teacher found the weapon inside a black nylon case under a table in his classroom and reported it to authorities.

He pleaded guilty Dec. 18 to possessing a dangerous weapon at school and theft of a firearm. Ball had told detectives that he planned to sell the weapon to another student in exchange for $40 and an iPod Touch, police said. That student was not charged because the transaction never took place.

Police identified the weapon as a single-shot Rossi .410 gauge, .22 caliber rifle/shotgun. The case contained the rifle and ammunition. The barrel was detached from the weapon, which needs to be assembled to fire.

No one was threatened with the weapon, police said.

Wulle on Wednesday reminded Ball of the litany of school shootings that have terrorized the nation, including the most recent on Dec. 14 at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn.

As a result, “we are just hypersensitive about handling firearms in an appropriate way,” Wulle said. “I want you to think about what is responsible with weapons of any type.”

Paris Achen: 360-735-4551; http://twitter.com/Col_Courts; http://facebook.com/ColTrends; paris.achen@columbian.com.