School gun case sent to grand jury

Published 12:00 am Thursday, September 21, 2000

Two Natchez High students were bound over to the Adams County Grand Jury Thursday for having an unloaded gun on campus. Carlos Ward, 17, 166 Morgantown Road, waived his right to a preliminary hearing but Jerrid Norman, 17, No. 2 Elbow Lane, attended a short hearing Thursday at Natchez Municipal Court.

The two Natchez High juniors were charged with felony possession of a firearm on campus by a student after other students saw them with the gun last month.

During Norman’s hearing, prosecutor Debbie Blackwell called one witness, police investigator Gary Nations, to the stand.

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Nations testified about his conversation with Norman after the incident.

Nations said Norman told him Ward brought the gun to school. But while they were in the auditorium, Norman asked to see the gun and took it from Ward.

&uot;His statement was he grabbed it from the co-defendant,&uot; Nations said, adding that Norman may have only had the gun for about 30 seconds.

Students reported the incident and said Norman waived the gun around in front of them.

Norman also told police he asked Ward if the gun, a .22-caliber revolver, was loaded and Ward said the bullets were in his locker.

But Nations said he did not find any bullets in the locker or on campus.

Norman’s attorney, Chester Jones, said he hopes the matter could be resolved soon.

&uot;It’s a young person here and his life is before him,&uot; Jones said.

Even though Norman did not bring the gun to school, Municipal Judge John Tipton said possession is the only issue.

&uot;It’s not a matter of who brings it,&uot; Tipton said.

As 17-year-olds charged with a felony, the students are being tried as adults.

The penalty for possession of a firearm is up to a $5,000 fine and three years in prison.

In accordance with state law, a school discipline committee expelled both students for a calendar year without alternative education.

Norman has appealed the decision to the school board, but because of the law its authority might be limited.

&uot;It will be interesting to see if the school board will have the power to overturn a ruling like that,&uot; said Superintendent Dr. Carl Davis.

Davis said the district has spoken with both students about taking GED classes, and he thinks the district needs to follow its policies on student discipline.

‘I just feel that we’ve got to have a safe (school) environment,&uot; Davis said.