Two rifles found on alleged school shooter
A Perth Children’s Court magistrate has warned the media about their reporting responsibilities as a teenager, accused of carrying out a shooting at a suburban school, fronted court.
The 15-year-old, who can’t be named, will spend another four days in custody as his lawyer prepares to apply for his supervised release on bail.
WA Police allege the teenager drove to Atlantis Beach Baptist College in Two Rocks on Wednesday morning with two rifles, one of which he fired three times in the school’s car park just before midday.
At least two of the three shots allegedly hit a demountable classroom, which had children and staff inside.
The boy was charged late Thursday with seven alleged offences, including three counts of unlicensed possession of a firearm/ammunition, discharged a firearm in a manner to cause fear, and unlawful act or admission with intent to harm.
Appearing in Perth Children’s Court on Friday, his lawyer revealed she hadn’t had sufficient opportunity to speak with the boy.
Magistrate Alana Padmanabhan noted reports would need to be prepared on the suitability of his parents and their home, where he is expected to live while on bail.
His parents were in the courtroom to support their son, who has no prior criminal record.
The matter was adjourned until Tuesday so those reports can be generated.
State prosecutor Brad Hollingsworth told the court he will oppose bail, before directing comments at members of the media.
Mr Hollingsworth used an example of reports suggesting the boy had been expelled from the college prior to the alleged incident.
“That is just not right. Be cautious in the way you [the media] report on this,” he said.
He was also critical of reports that the boy himself had called triple-0 on Wednesday, which “had not been made public through any official channel.”
Magistrate Padmanabhan agreed, telling the court she hoped the media would take the comments on board.
“I’m sure the media is aware of their obligations and the consequences of breaching those obligations,” she told the court.
The boy, appearing via video link from Banksia Hill Juvenile Detention Centre, only spoke when asked to confirm his name and if he understood the charges against him.
Magistrate Padmanabhan asked the boy if he wanted to make any comments to the court. He responded “no.”
It was also revealed in court detectives hadn’t conducted a recorded interview with the teenager over concerns “there may be a mental health issue at play.”
A hospital report was considered, but that can take up to a week to complete, and the magistrate needs evidence that such a report is needed.
The court also heard the guns allegedly used in Wednesday’s incident were both made by United States gunmaker Savage Arms: one an Axis 243, the other a Mark II FSS 22.
According to the manufacturer, they hold four and 10 rounds, respectively.
Body cam vision released by police on Thursday showed officers quickly apprehending a person at the scene on Wednesday, before giving the all-clear to classrooms where children were sheltering.
The college was closed on Thursday and was open with limited activities on Friday, before returning to a normal schedule on Monday.
WA Police Commissioner Col Blanch on Wednesday called it “a rare incident” and a “one-off”.
Premier Mark McGowan, who toured the college on Thursday morning, said it “could have been so much worse”.
He highlighted his government’s plans to beef-up gun laws, which had been announced in late April, and said he was seeking to make WA’s gun laws the “toughest in Australia.”
The boy’s parents made no comment to the media as they left court, accompanied by two others.
The boy is due back in the same court on May 30.