Teen accused of threat against praying students remains in jail
MINDEN – A Topaz Ranch Estates teenager, expelled from Douglas High School for allegedly threatening to shoot a group of students praying on campus, was ordered to remain in jail until the status of a mental health exam is determined.
Constable Paul Gilbert, filling in for East Fork Justice Jim EnEarl, told Daniel Ferguson he wasn’t ready to lower his $5,000 cash bail until there was a risk assessment of Ferguson.
Ferguson was charged with threatening to cause bodily harm to a pupil or school employee, a gross misdemeanor.
He reportedly told a student who was praying Sept. 27 with a group of friends near the flagpole outside DHS, “If I had an AK-47 with me, I would shoot you all.”
He was accused of repeating the threat the next day to the same student before class.
Ferguson did not have a weapon, and no one was injured.
Ferguson admitted the threats, but told officers he was joking.
He has been in custody since Sept. 29.
His lawyer, Tod Young, on Wednesday said Ferguson had been expelled from school and would stay home if he were released.
Ferguson’s father said he was off work for two weeks and would supervise his son full time.
Gilbert set a hearing for Wednesday when Young said he expected to know the date of Ferguson’s evaluation.
Prosecutor Dina Salvucci opposed the bail reduction, saying officers had uncovered evidence in his backpack she described as notes and poems full of references to committing crimes, death and inflicting pain.
“We feel he is a risk to society and a risk to the community and that has greater weight than him staying in jail,” she said.
Young said the notes were song lyrics.
“They are not lyrics to songs that I would buy, but they are song lyrics,” Young said.
He argued that no one was injured.
“This comes about because some foolish things were said that caused angst and anxiety among students, school officials, law enforcement and the community because of recent incidents,” Young said.
The alleged incident at Douglas High School occurred the same week five girls were shot to death at an Amish schoolhouse in Pennsylvania.
A week earlier, a similar incident occurred in Bailey, Colo.