BLOOMINGTON – A 15-year-old central Illinois boy who pulled a gun in class and fired shots into the ceiling was sentenced to juvenile prison after he apologized to the students, parents and faculty he terrified that day.
A Normal Community High School teacher tackled and subdued the teen after he fired the shots in a packed classroom on Sept. 7. The school's more than 1,800 students were evacuated to a nearby church. No one was injured.
The boy, whose name is sealed in court records, pleaded guilty but mentally ill in December to weapons charges and unlawful restraint. Eight other counts were dismissed.
"I feel terrible for what I did," he told the court Tuesday. "I feel I served a lot of time and I deserved that time. I would write 100 letters to each person if I could. Even if it shocked their lives, it shocked mine even more."
His public defender, Art Feldman, asked Judge Elizabeth Robb to sentence the teen to five years' probation and mandatory mental health treatment, but she sentenced him to juvenile detention, as prosecutors had requested.
"This date was a horrendous event for the 30 students in the classroom, the parents and the school administrators. It rocked our community," Judge Elizabeth Robb said. "No one ever fully recovers from this."
The state juvenile prison system can keep offenders until they are 21. Feldman said the Department of Juvenile Justice will determine how long the boy remains incarcerated.
Melissa Egenes of Bloomington was one of several parents at the hearing. She said her daughter was in the classroom.
"I felt strong closure," Egenes said.