VADNAIS HEIGHTS — A juvenile and his parents were arrested March 2 after unsecured, loaded guns were found in their home the same week the student was suspended from the Academy for Sciences and Agriculture (AFSA) for an alleged school shooting threat.
Ramsey County Sheriff Jack Serier stated he believes quick-acting deputies averted a potential tragedy. After a student’s parent reported the threat to the sheriff’s office, a search warrant was obtained and deputies found the 13-year-old home alone with unsecured, loaded guns March 2, Serier reported. His parents Lisa Marie Stowe, 40, and Christopher Lloyd Stowe, 41, were arrested March 2 for gross misdemeanor negligent storage of a firearm.
Christopher was charged March 5 and was also charged with two felonies — for unlawful possession of two guns, a machine gun and short-barreled shotgun. Lisa’s case was forwarded to the city attorney and she was charged with gross misdemeanor negligent storage of a firearm March 5, reported the attorney’s office.
The 13-year-old boy was charged with threats of violence.
According to the criminal complaint filed against Christopher, a classmate at the AFSA middle school in Maplewood reported March 1 that the 13-year-old said he was going to kill him and had a list of students he was planning to kill. A sheriff’s deputy responded to the school and learned that when he was suspended earlier that week, he said, “Hide in the closet when I come back because I will start shooting then.”
The deputy visited the student’s home in Vadnais Heights March 1 and his mother Lisa said there were no weapons in the home. However, a search warrant was obtained March 2 and a deputy found the student home alone with unsecured, loaded weapons. When Christopher arrived home, he stated the guns were his. Law enforcement officials found a significant number of firearms, ammunition, firearm parts and two possible explosive devices. Hidden in the ceiling were several trigger kits that appeared to be conversion kits for converting weapons to automatic. Literature on converting a semi-automatic weapon into a fully automatic weapon was also found.
Chris, Lisa and their son were all arrested March 2.
The student’s grandpa, Mark Stowe, thinks his family’s “civil liberties” have been violated. The student, 13, has autism and repeated a statement from South Park when incited by other students, he said. School administration dealt properly with the incident, he noted. The principal met with his grandson and son and explained the inappropriateness of the comment and he was suspended for two days. The school is used to disciplining children with autism appropriately, he added.
He is the new kid at school and has been picked on, Stowe said. When students at school asked him whether or not he would ever bring a gun to school he said, “No, I wouldn’t bring a gun to school, I would just shoot up the school,” something he has heard on South Park, Stowe said. The middle school student didn’t even know about the recent school shooting in Florida, he added, because the family protects him from such news.
“He doesn’t have a concept of that kind of evil,” Stowe said. “He didn’t know anything about it.” His grandson has taken gun safety classes but was terrified to go deer hunting because he didn’t want to see a deer die, he added.
The Stowe family has a four-generation collection of guns in their Vadnais Heights home because they have fought for the country in multiple wars, he said. The Stowe family even fought for the country as far back as the American Indian Wars, Revolutionary War and Civil War. The family’s gun collection includes an 1874 Evans and a gun that was used in the WWII liberation.
“They are family heirlooms,” Stowe said. “It’s not a weapon unless you use it that way. They are guns.”
Stowe, his son and daughter-in-law have taken advanced gun training, have conceal-and-carry permits and are members of the National Rifle Association (NRA).
Chris missed a trip to California to visit his dying aunt this weekend; he was supposed to fly out the day he was arrested.
“The whole thing is trumped up,” Stowe said. “My son’s civil liberties have been violated.”
Stowe said he doesn’t have an issue with police officers but that this particular time it seems they overreacted.
“I believe in the police force,” Stowe said. “I am a member of the Thin Blue Line.”
At a press conference March 2, Serier said the sheriff’s office has never had a concern with the Vadnais Heights residence in the past; police calls include an animal complaint call and a report of vehicle theft.
Serier reminded the public to always alert the sheriff’s office if you see or hear something suspicious.
“Some of these weapons were unsecured and clearly available to the minor in the home and that is a huge problem,” Serier said. “This type of incident reflects the pattern we see in the preamble to many incidents that we have seen happen across our country … This had all the ingredients for tragedy to follow.”
Christopher Stowe’s first appearance in court was Monday. His son also appeared in juvenile court Monday afternoon.
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