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Teen who brought handguns to Gillette middle school receives lengthy sentence
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Teen who brought handguns to Gillette middle school receives lengthy sentence

School Student Guns

This Nov. 13, 2018, file photo shows parents waiting outside during a lockdown at Sage Valley Junior High School in Gillette after a student brought guns and bullets to school in a thwarted school-shooting attempt. The student, Dale Warner, 15, pleaded guilty and was sentenced Thursday. 

A judge on Thursday sentenced a teenager to serve 11 to 20 years behind bars for bringing two handguns and ammunition to a Gillette middle school in 2018, the boy’s father said.

Dale Warner will be transferred to a juvenile correctional facility in Omaha, Nebraska, to begin serving his sentence, said Scott Warner, the teen’s father.

“He’s relieved that it’s finally over, and we can try to rebuild from here on,” Scott Warner said.

Attorneys for Dale Warner, 15, had asked the Campbell County District Court judge to allow the boy to serve two of his sentences at the same time, which would have effectively reduced the punishment to eight to 15 years’ imprisonment. However, the judge sided with prosecutors, who wanted Warner to serve each of his sentences consecutively.

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In November 2018, Dale Warner brought two handguns and ammunition to Sage Valley Junior High, where he was an eighth-grade student. A classmate told the principal, who took the weapons away peacefully.

Prosecutors initially charged Warner, who was 14 at the time, as an adult. He initially face nine counts of attempted first-degree murder — one for each person the teen was accused by authorities of targeting.

However, Warner accepted a plea deal in January that required him to plead guilty to two counts of possession of a firearm with unlawful intent and one count of assault. When he pleaded guilty, Warner said he was in significant emotional pain at the time of the incident. His biological father had died days earlier.

Speaking by phone after Thursday’s sentencing, Scott Warner, the boy’s adopted father, said his son needed to be held accountable for his actions. But he also stressed that teens who’ve committed similar crimes weren’t punished as severely.

“I don’t understand,” he said. “I would like to know why they were so harsh on this case.”


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Joshua Wolfson joined the Star-Tribune in 2007, covering crime and health before taking over the arts section in 2013. He also served as managing editor before being named editor in June 2017. He lives in Casper with his wife and their two kids.

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