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The Columbian: Sixth-Grader In School Gun Case Denied Release

The Columbian | Oct. 30, 2013 5:07 a.m. | Updated: Oct. 30, 2013 12:23 p.m. | Vancouver, Washington

Contributed By:

Paris Achen / Columbian staff writer

The sixth-grader accused of bringing a gun and more than 400 rounds of ammunition to Frontier Middle School erupted in a fit of cursing Tuesday when a court commissioner ruled that he will remain in custody.

New court documents also revealed that 11-year-old Quincy Tuttle may have had two potential victims instead of one and might have brought the gun to school two other times before he was caught.

Prosecutors now plan to charge him with attempted murder and other crimes.

Juvenile Court Commissioner Jennifer Snider denied Tuttle’s release Tuesday morning after reviewing a mental health evaluation. Snider said she was concerned for the safety of the community because Tuttle’s family had ignored the advice of mental health professionals in the weeks leading up to the incident. She also said Tuttle has anger management problems that intensify when authority figures give him instructions.

After Snider announced her decision, Tuttle cursed at her, hunched over a table where defendants stand at the bench and refused to leave the courtroom. He was eventually escorted out of the courtroom by custody officers as he called the officers a variety of expletives.

“Don’t (expletive) touch me,” he screamed.

The case against Tuttle, a student at the school, drew national media attention Oct. 23 when he brought the handgun, ammunition and kitchen knives to the school, according to court documents. Police say he planned to shoot another student who had called his friend “gay,” according to an initial probable cause affidavit filed in court. But new court documents revealed Tuesday that Tuttle may have wanted to shoot two students.

A mental evaluation was ordered on Thursday but wasn’t completed in time for a Friday review hearing in front of Snider. That hearing was rescheduled and held Tuesday.

Portland TV camera crews were posted inside and outside of the courtroom for the hearing, which was pushed to the end of the docket. The commissioner and attorneys reviewed the psychologists’ analysis of Tuttle during a recess.

Tuttle has been in custody since Oct. 23, when police officers found a .22-caliber handgun and two loaded .22-caliber magazines in his front pants pocket, according to a probable cause affidavit filed in court. Police said they found 463 rounds of ammunition, six large kitchen knives, a steak knife and a pair of two-way radios in his backpack.

On Thursday, Court Commissioner Dayann Liebman found probable cause for charges of first-degree attempted assault, second-degree unlawful possession of a firearm and possession of a weapon at school. Prosecutors indicated in new court documents that they plan to charge him with first-degree attempted murder, theft of a firearm, second-degree unlawful possession of a firearm and three counts of possessing dangerous weapons on school grounds.

Mental health treatment

When Tuttle became angry, he had suicidal thoughts, for which he was treated throughout the month of October, said Deputy Prosecutor Rick Olson.

Court psychologist Shirley Shen said Tuttle and his parents had contact with mental health professionals three times this month, prior to the incident. The mental health professionals told the parents to secure their home, but nothing was done to follow that advice, Shen said.

John Lutgens, Tuttle’s attorney, said Tuesday that Tuttle’s parents had disabled the firearms in their house and that the one Quincy Tuttle had taken to school wasn’t functioning. He didn’t say how the guns were disabled.

Tuttle stole the weapons from his parents on Oct. 17, Olson said.

The theft of the weapons was “calculated,” the prosecutor said. Tuttle told police that he thought about how to steal one of his dad’s guns for a couple of hours, according to court documents. He snuck into his parents’ bedroom to steal the gun when his parents went into the garage, the court documents say.

He apparently toted the guns to school on Oct. 18, Oct. 21 and Oct. 23, Olson said. On Oct. 17, he told a friend that two schoolmates, whom he identified by name, “were going to die,” according to court documents. The next day, Tuttle brought the gun and knives to school and showed them to the friend, court documents say.

Tuttle told the friend that he “was going to cut and shoot (the two students) on the upcoming Monday or Tuesday after school when the buses arrive to pick up the students so the staff and students could see it happen,” the court documents state. Tuttle’s plan was delayed because he couldn’t figure out how to shoot the gun, the friend told police.

On Oct. 23, Tuttle was happy because he had figured out how to shoot the gun by disengaging the gun’s safety, the friend said, according to court documents.

Tuttle told police that a voice told him the night of Oct. 22 to kill one of the two students named earlier as targets and then to kill himself, court documents say.

The next morning, a school counselor contacted him to ask him why he left school without permission on Friday, Olson said.

Tuttle told her: “I’m not going to (expletive) tell you anything. You don’t know what I’m capable of,” according to Olson. The counselor sent Tuttle back to class, Olson said.

Later that morning, Tuttle’s mother called the school about 9 a.m. to report that her kitchen knives were missing and that she suspected her son had taken them to school, the court affidavit states.

The school was placed on lockdown for about two hours Oct. 23. No one was injured.

Shen said that Tuttle’s behavioral issues intensified after the family moved to Vancouver from Nevada about a year ago.

Lutgens argued Tuesday that both Tuttle and the community would be protected if he was allowed to go home. His parents have placed alarms on the front and back doors of the family home because Tuttle has a history of leaving the house at night, Lutgens said. They also arranged for constant supervision at the home, he said.

Tuttle’s competency evaluation is ongoing. A review hearing on that matter is scheduled for Nov. 12.

Paris Achen: 360-735-4551; http://twitter.com/Col_Courts; http://facebook.com/ColTrends; paris.achen@columbian.com.

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