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Parents of school shooting suspect hit with felony charges for failing to secure their firearm

Authorities say the couple had a duty to secure their firearm but failed to do so

Image source: ABC News video screenshot

The parents of a teenage shooting suspect have each been charged with a fourth-degree felony in New Mexico, accused of failing to secure the firearm their son allegedly used to open fire at his high school earlier this year.

What are the details?

Police say 16-year-old Joshua Owen took his parents' handgun to V. Sue Cleveland High School in Rio Rancho on Valentine's Day, donning a ski mask. Once inside, he attempted to shoot three fellow students but the gun didn't fire, at first. According to the Albuquerque Journal, the suspect shot into the air instead, and no one was injured.

Joshua was arrested and charged with three counts of attempt to commit murder, unlawful carrying of a deadly weapon on school premises and unlawful possession of a handgun by a person under 19. In May, the suspect was found to be incompetent by a mental health evaluator.

Authorities say Joshua's parents, Dale Owen, 62, and Tamara Owen 48, could have stopped the incident from occurring because they were aware their son had mental health issues and had been warned a year prior that the teenager was considering shooting up his school.

In March 2018, Joshua sent a text to his ex-girlfriend that read, "Ever since my dad got a gun from his friend something tells me I should shoot up my school and I don't want to but I keep fighting it."

The girl showed the message to school officials, her mother filed a police report, and an investigation was launched.

Dale and Tamara were interviewed at the time, and allegedly claimed they did not have a gun in their home. Now, the two are accused of contributing to the delinquency of a minor because officials say they had a duty to secure their weapon given their knowledge of their son's previous threat.

Anything else?

According to ABC News, legal experts are calling the case "unprecedented." While 15 states currently have laws on the books requiring firearms to be locked away, New Mexico is not one of them.

If convicted, Dale and Tamara could spend up to 18 months in prison.

Joshua is still being held at the Juvenile Detention Center until he can be treated for his mental health problems.


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