Tragedy averted at SHS softball game
By Jody O'Hara
Mar 13, 2014, 09:36
If one is going to quote the law to an officer of said law: one might want to have some knowledge about how the law actually reads.
For some unexplainable reason, Andrew G. Norton brought a gun to a Stone High softball game last Friday.
When he was arrested, Norton told School Resource Officer William Head this was a free country and there was an open-carry law.
Head quickly informed him it was a felony to possess a firearm on school property.
The incident began when Norton, a 21-year-old resident of Gulfport, showed up at the game, ostensibly to support a 15-year-old player on the Lady 'Cats team.
Apparently, the two had begun a digital relationship through social networking sites.
The parents of the student confronted Norton and told him they didn't approve of his attempting to forge a relationship with their daughter.
"I told him it made me very uncomfortable for a 21-year-old to be communicating with my 15-year-old daughter," the student's mother said.
Ultimately, the parents asked Head to speak with Norton.
"I told him I couldn't require him to leave, but I could require him to have no contact with the youth." Head said. "He claimed he understood."
Norton retired to the parking lot, but then reappeared near the playing field which led to another confrontation between him and the student's mother.
This time he had a loaded, cocked Kimber 9mm handgun in a holster.
The father once again confronted Norton and he then raised his jacket, exposing the gun to the father.
"I told the officer, 'Hey, he's got a gun,' and he came back over and arrested him," the father said.
Head disarmed Norton and placed him in custody.
He appeared before Justice Court Judge Jeffery O'Neal Monday afternoon, charged with felony possession of a firearm on school property.
If he had any doubt about the directions Head had given him concerning having contact with the minor student, O'Neal dispelled all those doubts.
After appointing Gulfport attorney Jim Davis to represent him, O'Neal addressed the accused.
"I have no problem with you and I have no problem with guns," O'Neal said. "I do have a serious problem with somebody allegedly carrying a firearm onto school property."
At that point, County Prosecutor Tadd Parsons asked the court to include conditions on any bond which may be sent.
He asked that Norton be directed to have no contact with the minor, no contact with the minor's family and that he be banned from Stone County School District property and any and all school-sponsored events.
"I agree wholeheartedly with those conditions," O'Neal said. "I can't stress to you how serious this is.
"There is to be no communication; Facebook, Twitter, Skype,writing a love letter, sending your buddy over there; any means of communication is out the window."
While O'Neal assured Norton the initial appearance was not to determine guilt or innocence, he also impressed upon him how serious the charge he faces is.
"Because of the offense and because of the seriousness of the charge, you're going to have a high bond," he said. "You're bond is set at $150,000."
O'Neal had some last words for Norton.
"You need to do some thinking because you've got yourself into some serious trouble."
Head was praised for his response to the incident.
"We're just appreciative of his professionalism and the safety and security he provides for our students," said SCSD Superintendent Gwen Miller. "We're glad he was there to diffuse the situation."
Sheriff Mike Farmer said he was proud to have Head on his staff.
"He has a lot of experience and he's a first-rate law enforcement officer and we're happy to have him in our schools protecting our children," he said.
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