A Sun Prairie school student charged with threatening to shoot people was ordered to stand trial at a preliminary hearing on Tuesday.
Gabriel T. Pierre, 17, charged with felony-terrorist threats-public panic/or fear and disorderly conduct, appeared on Jan. 28 in Dane County Circuit Court.
Pierre reportedly told a Sun Prairie teacher at the Early Learning Center that he was going to buy a “32 pocket rocket” gun with his next paycheck and would “kill everybody”, according to the criminal complaint.
Sun Prairie Police School Liaison Officer Lamont Crockett testified at the Tuesday’s preliminary hearing, that he received a call from Sun Prairie teacher reported the threat around 10 a.m. on Sept. 18, 2019.
Officer Crockett testified that another teacher told him that Pierre had made a similar threat two days prior. He said that the two teachers were shocked and disturbed over Pierre’s comments and feared for the safety of other students at the Early Learning Center, 509 Commercial Ave.
Crockett said when he talked with Pierre that day, the teen downplayed the incident and said that he didn’t like the teacher and he said those things so she would leave him alone.
Crockett testified that he had contact with Pierre 10 times in the past year and that he had a history of being disruptive in school and making threats to other students and staff members. Crockett said in the past, those threats had been handled through “school intervention and school consequences.”
Pierre was a Sun Prairie High School student during the 2018-19 school year and was moved to the Early Learning Center for the 2019-20 school year, according to the criminal complaint. Crockett testified that the Early Learning Center is for students “who are deemed not appropriate to be in the larger school population.”
At Tuesday’s hearing, Pierre’s attorney, Dennis Burke, argued that the felony count of terrorist threat-public panic/or fear should be dismissed because there is no evidence that was Pierre’s intent.
Crockett testified, when cross-examined by Burke, that the Early Learning Center was not put on lockdown, students were not dismissed, and there were no disruptions to the normal routine at the center. Burke asked Crockett if he thought Pierre intended to cause panic or disturb the public with his comments. Crockett said no.
Dane County Circuit Court Judge Ellen Berz at Tuesday’s hearing found probable cause that a felony was committed and noted that the evidence shows that Pierre told more than one person on several occasions that he was going to buy a gun and kill people.
Berz said based on the school shootings that have happened in the United States, a threat of that kind would cause public fear and panic.
Pierre refused to enter a plea during the arraignment. The court entered a non-guilty plea on Pierre’s behalf.
Pierre remains free on a $500 signature bond with the conditions that he doesn’t possess or have access to firearms and not be on school property.
A final pre-trial is scheduled for March 31 in Dane County Circuit Court.