A 15-year-old boy accused of bringing a loaded gun to Harrison Central High had his bond reduced Wednesday from $10,000 to $2,500 following emotional testimony from his mother.
The student was arrested on Aug. 5 for possession of a firearm on school property. He is being charged as an adult and has been in jail since his arrest. A previous request by his lawyers to reduce his bond was rejected.
The arrest occurred after Harrison Central High Assistant Principal Jaworski Rankin was informed that the student was on campus with a gun, according to court documents.
Harrison County Sheriff's Deputy Sileanna Diamond, who works on campus, was alerted and searched the student, the documents say, and found a loaded .45 caliber semiautomatic handgun tucked into the front of his waistband.
He was arrested after Detective Nickolas Pennington, who handled the case, searched the boy's phone and found photos of himself posing with the gun in class and around campus, according to court testimony heard Aug. 17.
"He's not a terrible child," his mother testified at his bond reduction hearing Wednesday. "His teacher's say he smart, he goes to church every Sunday…I don't tolerate these kinds of things."
She argued her son made a mistake and is susceptible to peer pressure and wanting to be popular.
A card dealer at a Coast casino, she said she could not afford the $10,000 bond.
Her son's attorney, James Logan, asked the bond to be reduced to $2,000.
Although his mother testified she had no knowledge of her son being associated with a gang, Pennington testified that in a video call from prison the boy made possible gang signs. He said police are yet to identify what gang the signs are from.
"There is no reason for a student to carry a handgun on a bus or at school," said prosecuting attorney Herman Cox who argued against the bond reduction. "Thank goodness nothing happened."
Following testimony, Justice Court judge Brandon Ladner agreed to reduce the bond to $2,500.
"If I knew for a fact I had a supportive parent, I was going to reduce bail…I don't believe this was a terrorist threat," he said. Ladner set the initial bond and heard the previous bond reduction hearing. "Guaranteed if it was any other judge, bail would have been a whole lot higher."
Ladner set conditions for the boy's release prohibiting him from using guns, being around known gang affiliates and having to abide to keep a strict curfew.