Former student sentenced for brining gun to school

Published 12:00 am Monday, March 12, 2001

A former Natchez High student who brought a gun to school by &uot;mistake&uot; last August received a suspended sentence Monday.

Carlos Ward, who was 17 years old at the time of the incident, pleaded guilty to the felony charge of possession of a firearm on educational property before Circuit Court Judge Forrest &uot;Al&uot; Johnson.

&uot;I think it was a blessing,&uot; said local minister Freddie Dawson about the sentence. &uot;We truly are grateful to the court for being so lenient on him.&uot;

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Ward was sentenced to one year in jail, all of which was suspended, and three years probation.

He also was required to pay a $500 fine plus court costs.

Ward was arrested for bringing the gun to school in his school bag last August and pulling the gun out in front of other students in the auditorium.

Assistant District Attorney E. Vincent Davis said as far as officials know, Ward did not intend to harm anyone with the gun.

&uot;His statement was he did not intend to bring (the gun) to school,&uot; Davis said.

Ward told officials he found the gun in his father’s sock drawer and dropped into his bag after he heard his mother coming to hide it from her. He later forgot it was in his bag, Davis said.

&uot;What he did was just make a simple mistake,&uot; Dawson said.

Officials also have no evidence that indicates the gun was loaded while on school property, Davis said.

Ward’s attorney Wanda Williams said her client’s actions might be considered immature, childish and even stupid.

&uot;But it does not raise to the level of Columbine,&uot; said Williams, referring to the 1999 shooting that left more than a dozen people dead at a Colorado high school. &uot;This is a young man of character. He wasn’t allowed to have his senior year, but he took lemons and made lemonade.&uot;