FISHERS, Ind. - Two students and an adult have been arrested on felony gun charges after police said text messages were sent to classmates at Fishers High School offering a gun for sale.
Fishers Police said they made the discovery when a .22-caliber pistol fell out of a 16-year-old’s pants pockets as officers were breaking up a party at the teen’s home. Their investigation then revealed text messages where the boy had been trying to sell the gun to his classmates.
“I wish I didn’t buy the gun because it obviously got me in a lot of trouble,” the boy told the Call 6 Investigators at his family home.
He admitted that he sent messages to 10 classmates, sometimes during school hours and sometimes containing a picture of the firearm, as he tried to profit from the gun he had been carrying for months in response to bullying.
“I just didn’t feel safe. I mean, I almost always had it,” he said of the gun.
He said he was unable to sell the gun to his classmates because so many told him they already had their own guns.
“Some kids already had guns and some didn’t and they wanted one but they didn’t have the money for one,” he said.
“Other kids have guns to the roof, every kind of gun you can imagine, pretty much any kind of thing you want, they can get you,” he said.
The boy’s mother, who requested anonymity, said, “It scares me. It scares me to know that there’s guns in schools and it scares me to know that there’s not a lot we can do to stop it.
“The scariest part of him trying to get rid of the gun was that he wasn’t able to because the people he was contacting already had guns,” she said.
Police said the Jennings .22-caliber pistol had its serial number filed off, making it a crime for anyone of any age to possess.
The 16-year-old was charged with a felony count of possession of a handgun with altered identifying marks.
A 17-year-old classmate was charged with the same felony crime. Both were booked into the Hamilton County Juvenile Detention Center in Noblesville. The 16-year-old was released on home detention restrictions.
Police said the 17-year-old originally bought the gun from an adult and then sold it to the younger teen.
“At some point they each possessed it,” said Fishers Police Officer Tom Weger. “The adult suspect was the original owner of the firearm and he sold it to one of the juveniles and then at some point the second juvenile possessed it."
The adult, 26-year-old Christopher Lee South of Noblesville, was jailed on four charges, including three felony crimes of unlawfully selling and possessing a firearm with an altered serial number.
South was also charged with possessing a gun despite a prior felony conviction.
Police said South worked with the older student at a local fast food restaurant, which police declined to identify.
“There is no information that led us to believe that this gun was ever on school property,” said Weger.
The Hamilton Southeastern School District issued a written statement:
“Under Indiana law, a student may be suspended or expelled from school for engaging in unlawful activity on or off school grounds if the unlawful activity may reasonably be considered to be an interference with school purposes or an educational function. Privacy laws restrict the information schools can disclose about discipline of specific students. We can, however, advise the school community that the students involved are no longer attending HSE schools.”
The younger teen’s mother said she was bothered that kids who find themselves in trouble have no way of safely disposing of a firearm without consequences.
She said the government offers amnesty to people who abandon babies at hospitals or turn in illegal drugs at drug collection events, yet teens who realize they shouldn’t possess guns have no way of digging their way out of trouble.
“Our son was trying to get rid of the gun. It wasn’t malicious. He wasn’t doing it to harm anybody but he found himself in a spot where he knew he shouldn’t be,” she said.
She also said she routinely searched her son’s room and tried to stay involved in his life.
“I never found it. I didn’t know he had a gun," she said. “They do things on their own, whether you want them to or not. It’s not always the parents."
When she was contacted by police during the party raid that led to the gun discovery, officers asked her to hand over her son’s cell phone.
She and her husband declined to hand it over until they spoke to their attorney, so police returned with a search warrant that allowed them to confiscate the phone.
She said she read through the text messages offering the gun for sale to classmates, and she said there was never any mention of violence.
“Nothing threatening on there at all,” she said. “He’s a good kid. He just got in over his head."
Her son told Call 6 Investigators he had previous drug abuse issues, but had never been arrested before the gun was found.
“I’m glad I got caught when I did because, I mean, obviously I was just getting worse. I would have sold that one and got maybe two more, so I’m glad I got caught when I did,” he said.
Her son is required to check in with juvenile probation officials and abide by other restrictions pending his trial, which is now set for March.