“I swear by my momma…I’m going to bring a gun here and kill him.” Criminal offense?

R.D., a student in Fort Worth ISD, was pretty upset when the campus cop brought him to the on-campus intervention room.  According to the teacher, R.D. told the cop “I’m going to get you.  I’m going to kill you.”  The cop left the room without responding to this, but the student continued to talk about it. He told the teacher “I swear on my momma, I’m going to bring something here, bring a gun here and kill him.”  The teacher tried to calm the boy down. Another student in the room also intervened: “No, man, you don’t want to say that.”  According to the teacher, R.D. continued to threaten the police officer, and then left the room, ignoring the teacher’s repeated instructions to come back.

The court does not tell us what happened after that, but presumably nobody got hurt. The student was not charged with assault, or illegal possession of a firearm. But he was charged with the criminal offense of threatening to exhibit a firearm on school property, in violation of T.E.C. 37.125.  He was convicted and appealed to the Fort Worth Court of Appeals. The court upheld his conviction.

The boy’s lawyer pointed out that there was no evidence that the boy had access to a gun, or had any intent to carry out this threat. The court held that this was “immaterial.”  The statute does not require proof that the student intended to carry out the threat; it only requires proof that the student intended “to cause alarm.”

So the next argument was that most of what the student said was not said directly to the police officer.  The court dismissed this argument also, noting that it was reasonable for the trial court to infer that the boy fully expected that his threatening words would get back to their intended target and would, in fact, cause “alarm.”

The statute makes it a crime if a person “intentionally exhibits, uses or THREATENS to exhibit or use a firearm” on school property, or a school bus, if it is done “in a manner INTENDED TO CAUSE ALARM or personal injury to another person or damage to school property.”  Here, the court concluded that there was sufficient evidence presented at the trial to establish that the student threatened to exhibit a gun in a manner intended to cause alarm.

The case is In the Matter of R.D., decided by the Court of Appeals in Fort Worth, on February 11, 2016. We found it at 2016 WL 551906.


LAST CHANCE: Those of you at the LRP National Institute in New Orleans have one more chance to hear the Dawg’s partner and head honcho (honcha?) in our New Mexico office, Elena Gallegos, at 11:15 this morning. The subject is student discipline. Don’t miss it!