Shooting at Augusta HS graduation likely only a misdemeanor

Published: May. 15, 2016 at 2:51 PM CDT
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UPDATE: A man who shot himself and a woman at a graduation ceremony at the Augusta High School on Sunday could be charged with a misdemeanor.

The Augusta Police Chief has presented a case to the Butler County Attorney Monday morning.

Chief Tyler Brewer said he will recommend the charge of criminal use of a weapon/possession of a firearm on school grounds.

"Let's just cut to the chase here," said Brewer. "The gun should've stayed in the car. An ankle, in a sock, is not an adequate place to put your weapon."

Chief Brewer said the concealed weapon was a Kel-tec semi-auto 380.

When it got uncomfortable in the man's sock, he tried to re-adjust it. Instead, the gun triggered shooting the man in the foot. It then ricocheted off the ground, flying more than 50 feet, into a women's calf.

The man drove himself to Kansas Medical Center for treatment. The woman was taken to Wesley Medical Center in serious condition.

"She was released from the hospital and is fine as can be. You know, she's got a bullet that's in her leg," said Brewer.

He says the class B misdemeanor he's recommending for the incident carries a fine of up to $1,000 fine and up to one year in prison. The man could also lose his license, but under Kansas law, he'd still be able to carry a gun legally because he has no felony.

"Unfortunately, sometimes people just don't use common sense." said Brewer.

No federal charges will be filed in this case.

FactFinder12 wanted to know: is it illegal to take a concealed gun, with a permit, into a high school football stadium?

It comes down to what the state means by two words - "grounds" and "building."

According the Kansas attorney general's website, concealed carry permit holders are allowed to carry on the "grounds of a K-12 school," but district's can post signs on school "buildings" prohibiting concealed carry inside.

No one FactFinder 12 spoke with is exactly sure what lawmakers meant by the terms grounds and buildings.

Attorney General Derek Schmidt clarified that a parking lot is grounds, meaning concealed or open carry is allowed. But what about a football stadium?

Lawyers with the Kansas Association of School Boards say they advise districts to post signs anywhere they don't want guns.

"At least let your intent be known as to what your feelings are, what you want to have happen at certain sorts of structures, those sorts of things," said Lori Church, KASB attorney.

Attorneys believe the Augusta shooting could help clear confusion, if the county attorney decides to take the case to court.


Two people were hurt, one seriously, in an accidental shooting at Augusta High School's graduation ceremony. Augusta police say a little before 2 p.m. Sunday, a man's concealed gun accidentally discharged when he was in an area of bleachers at Hillier Stadium, where the outdoor commencement was held.

Police say a bullet from the gun wounded the man's foot, then, either the bullet or shrapnel ricocheted about 50 feet and hit a woman in the lower leg as she was standing under the press box. This happened as people were filing into the football stadium for the graduation.

Police say the gun owner has a permit, and was carrying a small, semi-automatic gun in his sock. They say it was uncomfortable and he was adjusting the gun when it went off.

The man was reported to have accidentally shot himself in the right foot and was able to drive himself to a hospital. The woman was taken to Wesley Medical Center in serious condition after suffering a wound to the calf.

One witness who knows the woman who was taken to Wesley, said he heard the shot a little before the commencement ceremony began. He said he looked down at the woman's calf muscle and noticed the wound, which was "bleeding like crazy."

He said he ran over to the concession stand and grabbed a lot of paper towels in an effort to stop the bleeding. The woman's family says she is going to be okay.

Augusta police say the man whose gun went off should not have had a gun on school grounds, even outside. Police say they will present the case to the district attorney's office Monday. The district attorney will decide what, if any charges are filed.

There has been some confusion over whether having a gun at the graduation ceremony would be legal if the owner has a concealed carry permit. The short answer is, 'No,' police and lawmakers say.

A sign outside Hillier Stadium is clearly posted at the entrance. Whether the man with the concealed gun saw the sign is part of the investigation. Lawmakers who serve on the committee in charge of writing firearms laws in Kansas say a school is covered by federal law, not state law. Guns are illegal on campus, inside the building, or anywhere outside on the grounds, they say.