Posted by Tony Hayward, a resident of another community, on Jun 3, 2010 at 5:28 pm
BP did not mean to slime the Gulf of Mexico, but they did, so now they must pay for their accident. Weston Healy may not have meant to terrorize hundreds of kids, but he did, so he too must pay for his crime. His crime is not totally innocent. He did have the chance to take the gun and combat knife and hatchet home instead of to school, but he chose not to.
Show some leadership and responsibility. Work out some kind of plea deal for community service. Then get on with your life next year.
Posted by Sharon, a resident of the Midtown neighborhood, on Jun 3, 2010 at 5:48 pm
Healy should have put the soft air gun in the trunk before he drove on campus or left it on the back seat with the neon end of the barrel visible, the police would have seen that and called of the event, as would anyone who knows the difference between " toy" and lethal guns.
The fact that Healy is an Eagle Scout means to me that he should be ordered to lecture on firearm safety and air gun safety next year, have a clean record and go to Cornell University this fall
If he had been speeding he would have been a real threat to life and limb--let him learn and teach a lesson and let him get on with his life
Write it off to a fire drill and the lesson that adolescents need to get better at prospective decision making.
Posted by Broke the law, a resident of another community, on Jun 3, 2010 at 7:36 pm
According to this link Web Link he brought what qualifies as a weapon (the knife) AND the Airsoft rifle to school. The section he was arrested for encompassess not only teh Airsoft rifle but ALSO the knife. Wether or not he intended anyone any harm is imaterial to the fact he committed a crime. His stellar record and lack or criminal intent can be introduced as mitigating evidence in court. Sounds like the cops did a good job in arresting him for the laws he broke, and his lawyer is doing a good job of defending him while still having him accept responsibility for his actions.
Posted by Wikipedia Lawyer, a member of the Gunn High School community, on Jun 3, 2010 at 9:00 pm
In the western tradition, "mens rea" or criminal intent is required before one can be criminally prosecuted. See Web Link)
However there is the weaker notion of criminal negligence, a trickier concept requiring use of the "reasonable person" standard. To show criminal negligence a reasonable person should be able to have foreseen the unfortunate consequences of the action being charged. See Web Link
Common negligence can be grounds for a civil suit but it is not a criminal offense. See Web Link
Wesley clearly lacked any intent to break a law and while he may have been negligent, his mistake does not reach the level of criminal negligence because many reasonable people have made the same mistake. In fact, one reason this case has affected so many people is because they or their children may have carried AirSoft guns ready for that after school play date. They know personally how easy it is for this hypothetical "reasonable person" to have made a similar mistake.
I hope the police, the prosecutors and the school administration will realize that they have overreacted and are not on firm legal ground and will rectify the situation.
While I am not a lawyer but I can read Wikipedia and be just as insufferable as one.
Posted by Wikipedia Lawyer, a member of the Gunn High School community, on Jun 3, 2010 at 9:16 pm
BP is being sued in civil court and may be found liable for costs incurred due to their negligence. The criminal investigations is not into negligence but into the potential filing of inaccurate documents.
Posted by Cynthia, a resident of another community, on Jun 3, 2010 at 9:40 pm
Let me help you out Sharon, even though your comment was deleted I'll try to speak for you. First of all, if it was one of our kids they would be in prison and the comments would be the exact opposite of the predictable ones we are reading.
Also, history shows us that when "your" kids get depressed they make bombs in the garage and take oozies to school and make history! But this obviously "entitled" child with the good grades is being coddled!
I'm sorry, you guys need to think before you type, or maybe we're in denial thinking that you don't actually believe you're better than us because of your area code. Some of you are actually REAL people and I'm always impressed when I see a post that isn't just trying to fit in with the average "delusional" people. Which is the majority, that goes for the person who is monitoring the posts also, you're pretty fair and I appreciate this site. Thanks for letting me share.
Posted by PAPD-Critic, a resident of the Barron Park neighborhood, on Jun 3, 2010 at 9:56 pm
Wow....have times changed. Back in the sixties I stole a fire extinguisher one summer day with some friends and as we drove down middlefield Rd I decided to hose the guy down coming in the opposite direction.
I turned around to see that he did a u-turn and chased us while he flashed something that twinkled in the sun.....turns out he was an off duty PAPD officer on a vespa.
My friend and I were in the back seat of a 1958 chevy tossing the fire extinguisher back and forth while the officer was in hot pursuit wiping the water away......he was drenched...
The officer eventually caught us in front of Cubberley and locked us up in the library. He was pissed and wet....His commanding officer arrived and looked at his wet officer and then looked at me and my buddy and said....we were known then and now.(Names omitted)
Why aren't in school? Damn you (names omitted)get the hell out of here....To this day my high school buddy and I have a roaring laugh.
Fast forwarding and by today's standards we would probably still be in jail.....Wow have times changed....
Posted by person, a resident of the Palo Verde neighborhood, on Jun 3, 2010 at 10:25 pm
[Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.] Weston should absolutely NOT be expelled for what was 100% an honest mistake. He's already been suspended for the remainder of school - why do we need to screw up his life anymore than it has been already? He deserves to have a lawyer backing him, to graduate, go to Cornell, and move on from this horrible situation.
Posted by brent, a resident of Mountain View, on Jun 3, 2010 at 11:18 pm
One can only wonder the reaction of the same Gunn parents if the exact same incident had been the fault of a low-income hispanic youth with an equally clean behavior record in some less Lake Wobegon-ish town...
Posted by Wikipedia Lawyer, a member of the Gunn High School community, on Jun 3, 2010 at 11:27 pm
The reasoning to use when determining whether an action should be prosecuted is (1) the criminality of the act, (2) the intent of the perpetrator, and (3) the predictability of the outcome. Ideally this reasoning should have nothing to do with the background of the perpetrator, the community or the police but invariably it does. People sympathize with acts that they might have performed; when they think "there but for the grace of God go I." Acts that the community does not understand generate less sympathy.
For example, the spraying of a motor scooter rider that results in a crash and a death might be a tragic fluke or a predictable outcome. The decision made may well depend on the DA and the jury's experience with boyish pranks and lack of forethought. In today's world where it is easier for people to think of worst case scenarios, we get more guard rails and seat belts but we also get less sympathy for people who do not see the future so starkly.
The Paly egg throwers presumably had an intent to "prank" -- they weren't there to make omelets. The mitigation comes from the mildness of the act not from a lack of intent to perform it. Weston's case is quite different; the act of bringing a mock weapon onto campus is way more serious than egg throwing: it is intent and the predictability of the outcome that is missing.
There is a petition being circulated that pleads for leniency and reason in this case. It is available at this web address: Web Link
Posted by to cynthia and brent, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood, on Jun 4, 2010 at 12:39 am
to have to read over and over again the ethnicity factor, not only from you, but others that post in the different forums within paloaltoonline, when it's not necessry to bring up in a discussion...is truly exhausting. VERY TIRING...stop it.
Posted by PAPD-critic, a resident of the Barron Park neighborhood, on Jun 4, 2010 at 6:06 am
Emotions should have no room on punishment. It should be based on the law as any jury would be informed. Carry a gun onto school campus mock or real is a moot point. Punisment should be consistent with exsisting laws and the DA will make that determination
Posted by One Parent, a resident of the South of Midtown neighborhood, on Jun 4, 2010 at 7:22 am
I appreciate the legal information posted above. This is a very interesting situation to consider and though it isn't easy to come to a fair conclusion, I very much hope this works out for the best for Weston as it did for the other Gunn students due to the cool heads of the adults who handled the situation. I agree that bringing ethnic issues into it taints the discussion, as does bringing up the egg wars. If the 'perpetrator' had been of any other ethnic background but had the same GPA, was an Eagle Scout, had never been in trouble before and had been accepted to a similar university, the situation would have been very much the same, however the same people would be complaining that his arrest was only due to his race and claiming they would have let a white kid get away with it. In spite of his appearance he was taken away in handcuffs and booked. He has a lawyer because when you get arrested you need one. It isn't a case of entitled parents bringing in lawyers when ever their kid gets a tardy slip.
Posted by flexible_rigorous_parent, a member of the Gunn High School community, on Jun 4, 2010 at 7:31 am
The details of what happened last Thursday have not been disclosed by the authority. The above article simply quotes explanation from the boy's side. This has to be investigated fully to avoid something similar from happening in the future. Even if the boy may be exonerated, we need to make sure to eliminate from Gunn anything that may help the students losing sensitivity to the limit of things that are allowed.
Posted by anonymous, a resident of the Duveneck/St. Francis neighborhood, on Jun 4, 2010 at 9:34 am
If this student is so great and so intelligent, why was the gun openly displayed in early afternoon as he drove on to the campus? (I don't know who was driving, the student in question or the friend, but I understood the gun was on someone's lap). Why was it there then? Do people go around driving like this normally? I am not a gun person, and I would not be able to distinguish between a real rifle and an airgun, but it sounds like a nasty hobby.
It's a weird scenario. EVERYONE knows you can't bring weapons or weapons-facsimiles onto ANY school campus, ANYTIME.
There sure as heck should be consequences to the fullest extent of the law. Also reimbursement of school expenses. A lot of parents, students, staff and the public were terrorized by this incident. And the worker who called it in did the correct thing.
Posted by curious, a member of the Gunn High School community, on Jun 4, 2010 at 10:27 am
What about the orange tip on the air soft gun? Should the person who reported this to the police have been asked if they saw an orange tip? Had the orange tip been removed from the gun? Or is it illegal to have an air soft gun on campus orange tip or not?
Posted by the_punnisher, a resident of Mountain View, on Jun 4, 2010 at 10:33 am
I was officially a " nerd " long before the term became fashionable.
The crowd I ran with pulled off many pranks, both in MV and Palo Alto; many of those PRANKS would have been FELONIES these days, thanks to YOUR ZERO TOLERANCE crap. ( the list is long and funny and includes racing an Isseta and NSU Prinz down corridors and setting off coordinated stink bombs..and giving the cops a taste of their own medicine was the idea that created the laser sight. Things that GUNN HS and the PAPD and the Sheriff don't talk about )
I've moved to Colorado, where the SMART people left to have the proper respect for and understand REALITY. Our police and PUBLIC SERVANTS ( teachers, city workers and the like), know the difference between AIRSOFT COMBAT GUNS and REGULAR CAMPING EQUIPMENT, unlike your AIRHEADS who overreact.
This situation was an overreaction and CYA has set in, making a VICTIM where none should exist.
Maybe this EXCELLENT YOUNG STUDENT will find the correct sanity and learning environment OUTSIDE the SFBA, and could visit BOULDER when he feels nostalgic about the land of FRUITS, NUTS and FLAKES. Too bad it appears that they have taken over positions of authority out there AND in the newsroom CENSORSHIP business ( reference the other story piece about athletics )
I'll continue to follow this and other stories ( and post them as well ), they make good reading and support the rest of the country's views about the LEFT COAST
Posted by More-Info-Please, a resident of the Green Acres neighborhood, on Jun 4, 2010 at 10:54 am
Lots of good comments on this .. but I have not seen anyone comment (or any of the papers report) on whether this matter of airsoft "weapons" being on campus is a "crime", or not.
Someone posted in another thread that having an airsoft gun in public in Palo Alto was against the law. Is that true?
It seems to me that the schools have an obligation to post all of the "rules and regulations" on their web-site, and then require the kids and their parents to "sign off" on have read and understood the "rules" .. so that the schools can say that they have made every effort to explain to students what is considered "criminal" behavior on campus.
The original posting on the Weekly's web-site claimed that a "city worker" saw the "gun" as the car entered the parking lot. This "worker" was no doubt someone cutting the grass. So was one of the kids pointing the gun at people, or out of the car, so that this person could see it, or feel threatened?
A lot of missing detail here .. but that seems to be the way the Weekly works.
Posted by Disgusted, a resident of the Old Palo Alto neighborhood, on Jun 4, 2010 at 10:56 am
If this kid is so smart then he certainly knew that what he was doing was just plain dumb, he has probably done this type of thing before and never got caught = lesson - clean out your car, take responsibility and pay the price for your mistake.
How was anyone to know this was "not a threat" you see a gun, rifle etc. you panic, normal reaction. Police did a good job and this young man needs to be punished, if you slap his wrist and let him graduate and go on to college he will not have learned a valuable lesson. Leave all guns to the police not teenagers.
Posted by Alphonso, a resident of Los Altos Hills, on Jun 4, 2010 at 11:18 am
This kid disturbed the peace and that is what should be charged. All of the discussion about Gunn/Paly parents and treatment due to race differences is simply nonsense. The goal is to prevent students from hurting each other. I am not concerned about kids unintentionally bringing airsoft guns to school and admitting having them. I am more concerned about kids who intentionally take real guns to schools and try to keep it a secret. There is a difference.
Posted by ANN, a member of the Gunn High School community, on Jun 4, 2010 at 11:25 am
So, if you are a good student then you are excused from bad behavior??? He carried a weapon to school and he should be expelled for that. Period. It does not matter if some kids like him or not or if he has good GPA. The headline is wrong... this is not an innocent mistake. He is a 18 year-old man and he knows better.
"You can't blame them for calling the police, and you can't blame the police for responding as they did," Geffon said Thursday.
This is such an irresponsible statement!!!! Did his lawyer really said that??? OMG! So, next time someone brings a weapon to school no one should contact the police??? This is a very dangerous thing. We need to contact the police and the police must act fast if this is to happen again.
Mr Geffon, we need to thank whoever called the police and the police for taking action. And your client has to pay for all the damage he caused.
Posted by Brian, a resident of the Evergreen Park neighborhood, on Jun 4, 2010 at 11:26 am
I wonder what some of those people screaming for Mr. Healy's blood would do if their child was in the same situation. This seems like a situation where the intent was entirely innocent. Let's be more worried about the cases where criminal and violent intent are involved. Maybe paying the costs of the response would be sufficient penalty.
Posted by the_punnisher, a resident of Mountain View, on Jun 4, 2010 at 11:37 am
To the AT&T so-called "expert " and others with opinions on Columbine as it relates to this incident:
We learned the shortcomings of our people in authority and do our best to RESTRAIN THEM.
Yep, BLANKET ACTIONS like this incident of an AIRSOFT COMBAT GUN and CAMPING GEAR don't cause an overreaction; people just go about their business, EVEN WHEN PEOPLE OPEN CARRY LEGAL FIREARMS!
We just caused the CSU campus to rescind such a ban on legal CCW weapons and our state allows most places to open carry, this was the OTHER reaction to the LEOs UNWILLINGNESS to PREVENT and STOP the incident at Colubine HS ( I saw the real time unedited incident and the cops RESTRAINED the ARMED CITIZENS who wanted to rescue people, rather than let the SWAT team and cops sit on their a$$es ).
So this incident just proves my point and others with their opinions that CENSORED copy does real damage. You weren't there; I was.
Time to face reality; something that is getting hard to find in the Left Coast...
Posted by parent of 3, a member of the Gunn High School community, on Jun 4, 2010 at 11:43 am
Among the items police reported they found in Healy's car were "two face masks, one spade shovel with a 4-inch pick, a hatchet with a removable saw and a military style knife with a 7-inch blade."
This situation is an absurd! And, sure enough he has an explanation for all above... or better, his lawyer has the explanation.
What this man did is unacceptable. And to let this man graduate like he has committed just and innocent mistake is an absurd idea. This kid MUST be expelled.
And, I don't care if he is involved in scouting and robotics, water polo, swimming and wrestling. He has to pay for his actions, he is a grown man and if we don't take serious action now to prevent any similar situations. If there is not a major punishment, we will be putting all our kids in a greater risk! The safety of our schools should be number one priority.
Posted by Anon., a resident of the Crescent Park neighborhood, on Jun 4, 2010 at 11:46 am
>> unedited incident and the cops RESTRAINED the ARMED CITIZENS who wanted to rescue people, rather than let the SWAT team and cops sit on their a$$es
First, this is a whole "secondary" issue that is not relevant, but you being up because you are a "gun-nut". You are a gun nut because you cannot speak or write rationally or seriously without ALLCAPPS, and epithets like "the Left Coast".
We here in Palo Alto are interested in responsible and intelligent discussion and solving a real-world problem, not listening to the incoherent irrelevant ravings and provocations of a "gun-nut" so please, take it somewhere else.
Posted by rem, a resident of the Adobe-Meadows neighborhood, on Jun 4, 2010 at 11:48 am
If the DA decides to go ahead with the case :::
1) Hopefully the Judge will toss the case out.
2) Hopefully the Judge will have a LONG talk with the police for OVER REACTING. OVERACTING –Yes –The boy was in the school. In my day the police would talk to people FIRST…
3) Hopefully the Judge will have a LONG talk with the County and School Administration – On OVERACTING…
Zero tolerance is a excellent way to not have to think and evaluate a situation…
I strongly AGREE with Walter – “Hockey pucks - this is another example of why people who administer zero tolerance deserve minimum wage.”
I learned early on to “put brain in gear” first, then act…
“…terrifying students and parents” – I can’t wait to hear THE story on that STATEMENT…
Cornell University probably will have common sense and EVALUATE the facts and admit him..
Yes, “this is a very unfortunate situation” and OVERACTING by a city employee, police and GUNN Administration..
TO: the_punnisher :: I agree with you 100 percent
TO: TipAndRing :: Get a life. This is like apples and oranges – This is nowhere near Columbine. That was a case of NO PARENTING!!!!
TO: Alphonso :: This kid did NOT disturbed the peace. The POLICE and School Administration by OVER REACTING – disturbed the peace. If the police had done the job correctly – Key word here is CORRECTLY and investigated first.
Posted by Anon., a resident of the Crescent Park neighborhood, on Jun 4, 2010 at 11:51 am
I'm afraid given this students attitude and response of lawyering up and not accepting responsibility, I have to say I a agree with "parent of 3" - he needs now to made an example of.
The face mask thing and axe and whatnot is also very worrisome. I have seen many investigative journalism reports of very serious criminals who were caught with this kind of gear, and had the same over-reaction of innocence and persecution.
The shirking of responsibility and inability to appear contrite and apologize instead of attacking the community who whatever mistakes were made was merely trying its best to protect the peace and students shows this student does not get it ... not matter how smart his grades show him to be. Lots of people with no morality frequently lie and cheat to get ahead in the material aspects of life, and they are able to do that the way with our society's often hands off, hand-wringing approach to morality.
Posted by parent of 3, a member of the Gunn High School community, on Jun 4, 2010 at 11:55 am
On March 22, 2007, in Little Rock, Arkansas, a 12-year-old boy was shot and killed by a police officer. The child’s silver toy gun was mistaken by the police for a real handgun.
On February 12, 2007, in San Diego, California, Noe Rojas, a 17-year-old teenager, was shot and killed, by an 11 year veteran police officer, for having a toy gun, which resembled a .38 caliber revolver, during a traffic stop.
On January 6, 2008, in Belleville, Illinois, a 39-year-old man was shot by police when the man pulled out a gray toy pistol, which looked real, from his waistband.
On October 5, 2007, in Bakersfield, California, a 49-year-old man, Frank Ramos Sr. was fatally shot and killed by two Bakersfield police officers because he was holding a gun while standing in the street. The gun turned out to be an imitation toy firearm.
On January 13, 2006, in Longwood, Florida, a 15-year-old, Christopher Penley, who was an eighth grader, was shot and killed by police officers for brandishing a pellet gun that closely resembled to a 9 mm at Milwee Middle School. The pellet toy gun had been painted to appear to be a real firearm.
On June 22, 2007, in West Memphis, Arkansas, a 12-year-old boy, De Aunta Farrow, was shot and killed by a Memphis police officer because he was holding a toy gun in his hand, and the police officer said it looked real.
In February of 2004, a 14-year-old boy in Lakewood, California, was shot and wounded after Sheriff’s Deputies mistakenly thought an Airsoft pellet handgun in the boy’s waistband was real.
Posted by Anon., a resident of the Crescent Park neighborhood, on Jun 4, 2010 at 11:56 am
> Cornell University probably will have common sense and EVALUATE the facts and admit him..
This is the only thing I agree with "rem" on.
Let's let each entity figure out what to do on its own, and quit using Cornell as the scapegoat responsible for ruining the kid's life. If the kid's life is going to be ruined it will be by refusal to be responsible and learning that he can whine, complain and threaten society so he can have his infantile baby way despite whatever he may be do to other people, or costs that he puts on them.
He made the mistake and rather than stand up and take it like a man and apologize, and throw himself on the mercy of an understanding ... more than understanding city, school and police department, he is being confrontational with a lawyer. At this point, it is an institutional incident, and let's let it take it where it well.
Then he will have to deal with his life and re-evalute at that point. [Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]
Posted by parent, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood, on Jun 4, 2010 at 11:57 am
Honest, innocent mistake, let's see.
Do you make a mistake when showing off your new airgun outside OSH? If you want to show it to a friend, then wait until you are at your own or his house?
Do you make a mistake when driving with the airgun on your passenger's lap, or do you show it off then put it away safely?
Do you make a mistake when dropping stuff off at school when school is about to be dismissed? Possibly not a good idea but not enough info on this one?
Do you make a mistake when taking it off the lap and putting it in the trunk at school?
These things sound more like showing off than mistakes. Yes he may be an eagle scout, yes he may be a stellar student, yes he may be on his way to Cornell, but yes he is 18, a senior and by all accounts it sounds like he was showing off. Seniors show off, this time his blase attitude has got him into trouble - just like the prank with the car at Paly.
Senior pride has always been in our high schools. Each year seniors do foolish things either to outdo their peers or to outdo their predecessors. Should he be taken down a peg or two? Yes or it will continue to escalate every year. Should he lose his opportunity to walk or go to Cornell? No, because he will grow up and be wiser because of this. Can we stop this happening in the future? Probably not. Should we try and stop seniors from bragging and showing off? Debatable as rite of passage and adolescent mischief and the consequences thereof are in part what turns adolescents into adults.
Punish the crime, not the future life of this individual.
Palo Alto also has laws governing these items and there also are laws related to bringing weapons onto school grounds. You can find links in older threads on this topic.
When the incident was originally dispatched by police, it was broadcast as a "Code 2" (urgent, but not an emergency) with a report of the passenger (not Weston) holding a possible Airsoft gun on his lap pulling into the Gunn parking lot, but "no 417" (California Penal Code for "brandishing a weapon"). Given the recent events concerning Gunn students and the car's arrival on campus just before school was letting out, I think the PAPD was more than justified in planning for the worst case and trying to ensure the safety of Gunn students, staff and their own officers. I have two kids at Gunn and I was very worried.
The article attached to this thread only gives Weston's side of the story. Personally, I don't buy his attorney's version. I heard originally that the Airsoft gun was part of a prank, but they either lost their nerve or came to their senses. In my opinion, Weston's behavior needs to be handled very seriously. A few years ago, a student was shot and killed by police at a school in Florida when he pointed his Airsoft gun at an officer. It didn't matter that it was a toy gun.
The PAPD and the DA's office haven't said much. But before you condemn the PAPD and accept the story about an "innocent mistake" please wait for all the facts, or at least both sides to the story.
Posted by Parthena, a resident of the Ventura neighborhood, on Jun 4, 2010 at 12:21 pm
Yes, this young man made a mistake. It should be taken into consideration though that he is a good kid and student, so, please, don't ruin his future! I am sure that he is shocked with what happened and he regrets deeply. And stop blaming his parents!
Posted by Bystander, a resident of the Duveneck/St. Francis neighborhood, on Jun 4, 2010 at 12:23 pm
Funny thing; seems to me that most, or at least many folks on this page, go to church every Sunday, asking for forgiveness and committing themselves to forgive. How embarrassing to see so many blood thirsty people wanting to rip this kids future right out of his chest.
(I’d be really worried for him if lynching were still around with all those Palo Alto trees…)
Here is the choice; we scared the living daylights out of this young man. That’s a fact.
A) He doesn’t go to college; he doesn’t attend graduation end result – depression and perhaps a future criminal in the making. Congrats.
B) He does go to college, becomes a model citizen and contributes by having learned an awful lesson.
Which way would you choose for your kid, grandkid or as a generally kind person many of you profess to be every Sunday?
Posted by youguysareridiculous, a resident of Menlo Park, on Jun 4, 2010 at 12:35 pm
oh my goodness. for the people who are saying that he deserves a stiff penalty for what he's done... you're being ridiculous. imagine if you were in this situation. you made a stupid mistake, caused complete chaos at your school, were dragged off campus in handcuffs, and suspended during your last week of high school. does that sound fun? not at all. do you really think he deserves more punishment? besides the ridiculing he's obviously going to get from stupid palo alto parents like you as well as his peers? imagine if you or your kid were in the same situation! would you want your kid to be expelled and not be able to graduate and go to his or her ivy league university because of one little mistake? i would be shocked. this is honestly ridiculous. give the kid a break.
Posted by the_punnisher, a resident of Mountain View, on Jun 4, 2010 at 12:44 pm
Sorry, not a gun nut, unless you think everyone outside of the Left Coast are gun nuts.
One of the things I made a good living with is dealing with FACTS. The fact that I left the Left Coast 20 years ago is that I saw what the SFBA was turning into; I've stated it several times.
I've taken the best that was offered in the Educational Community and I really pity what a joke that the SFBA has turned into. That knowledge has given all of you the opportunity to spout your ignorance ( I hope not deliberate stupidity ) as I have a better claim helping " invent the Internet " than Al Gore has ( my list of SFBA employers is impressive and I was lured away to work at a certain company in Chippewa Falls, WI ).
The fact that we played with the high tech equipment and set up pranks near and around Palo Alto just showed how good we were at being not only good students, but budding achievers in our own right.
Many of the people on this comment section are killing off the last reason the Silicon Valley area WAS, I repeat, WAS unique. Your center of innovation and ideas is gone. This event and the response to it shows just how much change the SFBA has had in 20 years and the reasons I left are now plain to see.
There was a time when I could be proud of having lived in Silicon Valley, now I spend my time shaking my head looking at what it has turned into.
Your empty offices and opinions expressed on this comments section are now the best FACT that the area is no longer the center of innovation; the worst part of it is that people in the SFBA WON'T ALLOW innovation to happen.
Posted by Prospectives, a resident of the Esther Clark Park neighborhood, on Jun 4, 2010 at 12:49 pm
Wow. There are sure a lot of perfect people out there in shallow alto. All living in glass houses? It's too bad this hard working young man "gets" to witness discrimination first hand. Take me back to days when we acted and were treated civily. I make mistakes. Don't you. Oh come on. I see you on the streets.
Posted by Dumb mistake, a member of the Palo Alto High School community, on Jun 4, 2010 at 12:59 pm
Amen, Bystander. We all make dumb mistakes, even as adults. I cannot even understand why he was suspended. Have him speak at the graduation ceremony and apologize. We have all learned from this experience.
Skelly should send out a bulletin to all parents to remind their children of the error in this incident.
Posted by Bystander, a resident of the Barron Park neighborhood, on Jun 4, 2010 at 1:16 pm
I don't care too much about what verdict Weston is going to have. But I hope the incident has given Gunn and the District another reminder that things need to be drastically changed to recover Gunn's reputation. When several students committed suicide, people often blamed Caltrain and avoided discussing the possible root problems at the school. In Weston's case, the school and the District should try hard to find how he became numb to what he can and cannot do; I don't think this was just a prank. One hint may be his association with the robotics class, which might have been very intimate judging from the description (he arrived at school, just to deliver something to the class). Based on what I heard from unenthusiastic parents, the robotics activities at Gunn, even though there may be good things about them, could do more harm than good, by canning students for many hours a day for many weeks in a building basically unsupervised (what did Weston and friend drop off, many weeks after the robotics competitions were over?) This kind of education may benefit a few core motivated students, but it can paralyze the majority of students, causing the loss of sensitivity to the real world. The official statement from the school or the District should clarify if the robotics class had noting to do with Weston's (and friend's) behaviors.
Posted by Anon., a resident of the Crescent Park neighborhood, on Jun 4, 2010 at 1:24 pm
> Yes, this young man made a mistake. It should be taken into consideration though that he is a good kid and student, so, please, don't ruin his future! I am sure that he is shocked with what happened and he regrets deeply. And stop blaming his parents!
This is blame the victim thinking ... the police did not show up for no reason.
I would like to see the kid punished now, the severity would be proportional to the power, infuence and idiocy he uses to fight back instead of saying sorry, it was stupid, I'll never make a mistake like that again, and I'll make up for this one.
Finally, I guess if I put some orange tape on a machine gun it is fun to carry anywhere I want. Do the people supporting this kid and saying the thoughtless slogans and irresponsible remarks bother to think about this at all past their own mistakes of carrying a 45 to school in the 60's and nothing happened. We're supposed to use this kind of thinking to turn off our brains to I guess?
And we wonder why democracy doesn't seem to be working.
Posted by parent, a member of the Gunn High School community, on Jun 4, 2010 at 1:32 pm
Bystander, here is option C.
c) He graduates and pretent he has done nothing wrong. He learns that he does not need to be accountable for his actions and that he can get away from anything as long as he can hire a lawyer. Other teenagers learn that it is okay to bring weapons to school (there is a precedent after all). Great, just great, hum?
This man must be expelled. Period! A lesson for all, a lesson for him, his 'protectors' and the entire community.
Posted by Anon., a resident of the Crescent Park neighborhood, on Jun 4, 2010 at 1:39 pm
Punishment, yes, something that helps the kid to learn he did something wrong and feel like he can make up for it. I think suspension and expulsion is on the edge of extreme, but so is getting a lawyer instead of apologizing and taking one's lumps for a stupid move.
Posted by Another Parent, a member of the Gunn High School community, on Jun 4, 2010 at 1:44 pm
[Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.] I think he made a mistake and should be accountable for it. Your tone is way too harsh. How about some constructive ideas as to how he can make amends. I think a speech to the school, community service, maybe some sort of probation so if he breaks the law again...... etc. It was just that a mistake. Given the tragedies that Gunn has experienced over the past 12+ mos a little forgiveness is necessary.
Posted by kmom, a resident of the Greenmeadow neighborhood, on Jun 4, 2010 at 1:53 pm
The reality is that Weston is a great student and a great person(so I hear). And that does privilege him with being treated differently(better) than someone who has not had such a stellar past record. Past records are often used against you, but for Weston this is his first serious mistake. He will be looked at with that in mind, I would think. I don't have a problem with this. I don't think the racial issue plays here, only because, a good student is a good student no matter what race or ethnicity. Weston was caught with the items mentioned and he meant no harm with them. That should be considered along with his stellar record as a young man. Why not. He may come out of this thinking that all that work as a student, scout, athlete, etc, helped him in life, especially when life got very difficult, and it may motivate him to continue excelling. The experience of being arrested, etc. has been punishment in itself. He may be 18 but he is not a responsible adult-but with a little leniency he may become one. Lets support him, so he doesn't end up depressed, suicidal or something else.
Posted by Elwood Blues, a resident of Menlo Park, on Jun 4, 2010 at 2:05 pm Elwood Blues is a member (registered user) of Palo Alto Online
I can't understand all the criticism regarding the hiring of a lawyer. He has been arrested and could potentially be charged with a serious crime. Wouldn't you hire a lawyer if you were in his shoes (or if you were his parent)? I know I would. In fact, I would say you would be foolish not to.
Posted by Sonia, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood, on Jun 4, 2010 at 2:15 pm
My personal opinion based on scattered information in different articles and posts I've read is that a safe process was followed, which started with the person who saw the gun. The person who saw the gun was concerned (with great reason to be) and called the police. The frantic mother called the police/other call came in about gun shooting on Los Robles and police acted accordingly. Now, the process is in next set of hands (DA, school, lawyer involvement).
Of course, we all make bad decisions. Sometimes we don't have to face our mistakes...other times we are held accountable for them. Either way it goes, in this case, there is a lesson to be learned. Do not bring guns, anything that looks like a gun, weapons, etc. to school or anywhere where it's not allowed. Doing so IS a BAD CHOICE that can reap consequences (regardless of someone's status). With the direction this world is turning towards, as a parent, I appreciate greatly how things were handled because it makes me feel safe.
There are many other angles I could look at this, but I strive to look at this situation at the angle that is fair in my eyes. I support PAPD for their response to this matter. The rest is up to the DA/lawyer, parents/family of student, and of course, the young man/student who made the wrong choice. I am sure it will all work for everyone involved. It's not the end of his life; he will continue to live and learn and if he's smart, he will make better decisions in the future.
Posted by bick, a resident of the University South neighborhood, on Jun 4, 2010 at 2:27 pm
"Because he lawyered up he should be punished". You've got to be kidding? Getting a lawyer is the second best thing he should do. The first is to NOT say a darn thing to the police. The police have a way of seeing goggles as "Masks", a spade shovel as a "4-inch pick", and a camping knife as a "military style knife with a 7-inch blade."
If there is a law against air-soft guns or knives on campus, charge him for that. But being stupid is not illegal.
Now if the school also wants to take action for the disruption, the principal can decide if he graduates or not? It is this decision that is going to determine whether he goes to Cornell or not? Given the volume of letters in support of the kid, I think he'll be heading east.
Posted by neighbor, a resident of the Greenmeadow neighborhood, on Jun 4, 2010 at 3:20 pm
Anon, ANN, and others.......
"You can't blame them for calling the police, and you can't blame the police for responding as they did," Geffon said Thursday.
Am not sure how this could be so misinterpreted. The attorney is saying that calling the police and the police response were reasonable. (You "can't blame them" means that you believe they shouldn't be blamed for their actions. In other words, you believe the caller and the police did the right thing).
As is true for others who have posted on this forum, I find the vindictiveness with which people respond amazing.I am also disappointed by the many attempts to use this forum to insult Gunn HS personnel, parents of this young man, residents of Palo Alto (as if they are all identical in some way), and the "left coast". For the strongly opinionated person who lives out of state and thinks there is nothing positive about the SFBA or the people here, why, then, do you look for reasons to interact with us? If we're all that bad, you'd think your interests would be directed elsewhere and you would not be engaging this forum.
For those so quick to judge -- how do you know the attitude of this young man? My understanding is that he has been exceedingly apologetic and feels horrendous about the uproar he caused. Why is there such a rush to judge him Anon? Let's at least hear all of the facts, the police and DA determinations, then assess whether or not the consequences are appropriate. Having a lawyer does not mean he isn't willing to accept consequences or is not contrite. He was arrested. People call lawyers when they're arrested.
A student with a 4+ GPA, persistence enough to earn Eagle Scout, and admission to a competitive university has spent many years studying, giving back to the community, and showing leadership. Yes, he made a mistake, and yes, it created substantial upset to those on lockdown. However, turning 18 doesn't magically turn a teenager into an adult with fully intact judgement. Please, let's either be neutral or give him the benefit of the doubt until we have the full story. The consequences should be determined by those who have the facts and know the young man.
Posted by great school, a resident of Los Altos Hills, on Jun 4, 2010 at 4:32 pm
I don't feel particularly strong vindictiveness in the posts. Rather, they should be taken as suggesting that his release may not be automatic because of his academic excellence or good personality.
What surprises me most on reading this forum is not many talk about the problems of the PAUSD, which to some appears exemplary. But as many point out, the Palo Alto schools are good chiefly because of the students and parents, and not because of the teachers or administrators. Unfortunately I must predict that similar scandals, perhaps on much larger scales, will happen in near future on one or more of the campuses, unless the PAUSD takes this and other unfavorable accidents more seriously, trying to overhaul the system and replacing unmotivated staff with new bloods.
Posted by the_punnisher, a resident of Mountain View, on Jun 4, 2010 at 4:38 pm
I'm hoping that the SFBA and especially Palo alto is not a lost cause. That is why I go to the trouble of educating and teaching about the errors I see as do many outside California.
Anyone who has the correct training can see where the mentality and social aspects of living in and about the Palo Alto area can be difficult for any people with above average intelligence.
[Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]
The fact that this young person happens to mirror my professional interests in many ways is why I even posted in the fist place.
Yes, I have made a living on the " bleeding edge " of technology, including supercomputers ( yes, I was a member of the Development group for the X-MP and Y-MP ) and was actually management in the Robotics Field.
Read your history and take time to check out " The Supermen " at your local library. The last part isn't true; I can fill you in on the real events that happened.
We have a seed that had been planted; the community decided to stomp on the seedling....you may now have only a weed that will have to be uprooted later on in life...or just another person who can attest to the accuracy of my assessment of the SFBA.
To address the comparisons to the incident I personally witnessed ( Columbine, My KIDS were in the Jeffco School District at the time ), at least the CITIZEN has learned not to believe everything a police PIO says, our REPORTERS can REPORT and not be JOURNALISTS with hidden agendas and slanted stories.
Here there be problems; my jobs later in life was to FIX problems.
YOU have overreacted; the best that can be done is to make amends and PETTY twisting of words will not solve the underlying problems; much like putting up fences around the CalTrain tracks won't stop the suicides.
Posted by anon, a member of the Palo Alto High School community, on Jun 4, 2010 at 4:51 pm
People who are saying he deserves to be punished, let me get this straight: because of a mistake (yes it was stupid, yes it could have been prevented, but it happened nonetheless), you want to ruin a smart kid's life, somebody who has so much potential. Everybody makes mistakes; if you say you haven't, you're lying. Stop pretending everybody was quaking in fear because of the code red. Some comments make it sound like the kids have been irreparably damaged due to experiencing an emergency procedure. Stop being melodramatic. From what I've heard, most students were messing around, texting, and not taking the event as seriously as they should have.
Posted by Midtown Parent, a resident of the Midtown neighborhood, on Jun 4, 2010 at 4:58 pm
I agree with you the _punisher, I do get "it" Gunn high school has a lot to do with the suicides, no matter what they say. Did you read the article in this same paloaltoonline, where the mother of one the children who died, describes how was it for him as student in palo alto? you should, the title is: PALO ALTO ISSUES
Schools grapple with 'emotional-health' efforts
Emotions ran high Tuesday as the Palo Alto Board of Education grappled with a proposed suicide prevention and mental health policy in the aftermath of four student deaths by s... READ MORE/COMMENT
Posted by Editor, Palo Alto Online, on May 26, 2010 at 11:34 am
This clearly speaks about what we put to some of our students at PAUSD, many do not show signs or hide them, but lately in college they can't stand it anymore and they end up their lives, more than 3 have taken their lives after they graduated. They are haunted by the experience. But the good thing is that many go to college and only few die. I have heard that students behaviors are ways of letting us know that something is wrong. [Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]
Posted by Anon, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood, on Jun 4, 2010 at 5:48 pm
Someone wrote: "When the incident was originally dispatched by police, it was broadcast as a "Code 2" (urgent, but not an emergency) with a report of the passenger (not Weston) holding a possible Airsoft gun on his lap pulling into the Gunn parking lot, but "no 417" (California Penal Code for "brandishing a weapon")."
*IF* this is correct, it is interesting and significant that it was called in correctly. I can't verify the time sequence, but, taking this at face value, *IF* it is true, clearly a major weakness in the escalation process was uncovered, because, based on this information, there was no reason for police with weapons drawn to order students back onto the school grounds and into classrooms (described in the other thread by people sympathetic to the police action as well as students). Clearly, the original, critical information was never conveyed to many/most of the officers on the ground. This isn't "second guessing"-- it is a clear weakness in the procedure that should be remedied before "next time", to avoid preventable accidents.
Another *possible* weakness -- someone farther away called in "gunfire". I would like to believe that the police did not assume it had anything to do with the Gunn incident, since the police *were there* and there was no gunfire. *IF* it did escalate the incident, that would also be an error, since an unreliable report of gunfire should not escalate a situation in which the police have direct knowledge. I assume the police discounted it, since false reports of gunfire do happen -- cars backfiring (not common with new cars-- frequent with old cars with carburetors), firecrackers, etc.
Posted by the_punnisher, a resident of Mountain View, on Jun 4, 2010 at 6:36 pm
[Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]
Some Einstein quotes that apply to the Gunn conundrum
We can't solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them.
A man's ethical behavior should be based effectually on sympathy, education, and social ties; no religious basis is necessary. Man would indeed be in a poor way if he had to be restrained by fear of punishment and hope of reward after death.
Sign hanging in Einstein's office at Princeton
Not everything that counts can be counted, and not everything that can be counted counts.
Weakness of attitude becomes weakness of character.
And the ONLY quote he has that I disagree with, I made some good money with it:
Science is a wonderful thing if one does not have to earn one's living at it.
Posted by great school, a resident of Los Altos Hills, on Jun 4, 2010 at 6:49 pm
It appears that the PAUSD and Gunn also do not take criticism. We should wait for their official analysis of the conundrum to be made public in near future. Until then comments on this student will be just guess work and insignificant.
Posted by Andy Daniel, a resident of the Fairmeadow neighborhood, on Jun 4, 2010 at 6:53 pm
I'm disappointed that so many posters can't look beyond the words "crime" and "gun on campus". No one has suggested, and the evidence as I've seen it in doesn't suggest, that this man intended to do any harm, or that he intended to scare anyone. The events as they played out did scare people, and that's unfortunate.
Sometimes, someone does not intend to do harm, such as with a drunk driver. There, punishment is clearly warranted, because the act was intentional and could have caused harm.
Bur when there is neither harm, nor possible harm, nor intent to do harm, what is the benefit of punishment? To teach everyone a lesson? We have fine paid teachers to teach lessons - they don't do it at the expense of students - why should we?
Posted by Attorney, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood, on Jun 4, 2010 at 7:23 pm
I believe that the other boy wasn't arrested and isn't facing prosecution because he was 17 years old. As long as we continue to 'redshirt' kids (especially boys) prior to kindergarten, then we will have increased arrests of 18 year old high school students for 'pranks' and 'mistakes'.
I'm not discussing the criminality or not of this, just the reality that this incident would not even have lead to the DA if Healy had been under 18 years old.
Posted by anonymous, a resident of the Duveneck/St. Francis neighborhood, on Jun 4, 2010 at 9:06 pm
Some seem to have the belief that because this young man is a friend of theirs he should not be held accountable to the law. Stunning! The law should treat everyone equally, not just the powerful with good PR. I am quite certain every student knows full well they MUST NOT bring weapons or weapons look-alikes onto ANY school campus. Straining for justification and making excuses really bothers me -- just apply the LAW and SCHOOL RULES.
Posted by Lawyer, a resident of the Downtown North neighborhood, on Jun 4, 2010 at 9:54 pm
I'm not sure what type of law you practice, but it definitely isn't criminal law. If it were, you would know that whether the friend was 17 or 18 is of no importance. The friend is equally responsible if a crime was committed. The fact that he was 17 only means that his case would go to juvenile court, not adult court.
I don't think any crime was committed, but certainly both boys (especially the friend holding the gun) should be treated the same.
Posted by Bernard, a resident of the Charleston Meadows neighborhood, on Jun 4, 2010 at 11:49 pm
There is no question that this kid has broken the rule, may be the law too. If we believe that this is unintentional and a bad judgment mistake, we ought to ask ourselves the question: Should he pay for this mistake with his future.
Let's give him the opportunity to learn the lesson without hard punishment, such as community work or public apology and move on with his life. I'm sure he has worked very hard for his college preparation like everyone else. I think no one will feel good if a life is ruined to make a point and send a zero tolerance message to others. After all, he is still a kid, though 18.
Posted by sam, a member of the Gunn High School community, on Jun 5, 2010 at 12:16 am
If this was in fact called in correctly, but escalated incorrectly by the police, they put the students in more harm by storming the school with automatic weapons than this student and his friend ever did.
Posted by walter, a resident of Mountain View, on Jun 5, 2010 at 2:10 am
Many people - including the press - are confusing Law vs. School Policy. Before people jump down my throat on this - I agree, this student was stupid to bring anything resembling a gun to school campus. For this to even be a police matter at all, a code must have been violated. If no crime was committed, then this is a school matter. The code being cited is PAMC 9.08.010, which reads "... no person shall have in his possession within this city, and no person shall fire or discharge, or cause to be fired or discharged within this city ... any firearm, cannon, fireworks, gun, pistol, revolver, anvil, firecracker or explosive of similar nature, rifle, air rifle, air-gun, BB gun or pellet gun ... all referred to in this section as "firearms." If this airsoft gun is considered an "air gun" (an airsoft gun projects a 6 mm/0.5 gram plastic pellet) then people of Palo Alto "WAKE UP". This means that EVERY ONE of you is committing the same crime this student committed every time you take your kid to a friends house to play airsoft, unless that friend's house happens to be "a legal firing, shooting or target range or hunting ground" You have let your overreaching legislators control your lives beyond reason! This may be a good test of the intent of that code. If this student is charged, then watch out - you may be next. (by the way, a nerf gun would also meet the same criteria).
Posted by Paly 09 Grad, a resident of the Professorville neighborhood, on Jun 5, 2010 at 3:12 am
I'm horrified how vindictive some people are. It moved me to post for the first time on PAOnline. I understand that all parents want to protect their kids, and that this was clearly a stupid mistake, but to those people that are out for a severe punishment should take a step back and ponder.
Three somewhat quick thoughts:
a) To those that think this whole ordeal isn't a lesson to the guy- being an Eagle Scout, earning a 4.17, and getting accepted to a school like Cornell are things you work the majority of your teenage years for. The fact that his future is now teetering in the balance is 150% a lesson for him.
b) To the people who think there needs to be an example made- I don't think you realize how quickly this kind of thing spreads through the student body. I guarantee you every kid that has some sort of knife, airsoft gun, ski mask/goggle, shovel (60% of all junior/senior guys right there) in their car will take them out immediately because they care about their future.
c) To those that say he's 18, he's a man. He's responsible for his actions.- Yes somewhat true. But I ask of you, at 18, how many of you lived at home? Did you for the most part do what your parents said? Did you pay for your own car insurance? Did you know how to file for a credit card? Had you traveled by yourself?
Yes, he's 18. No, he's not a "grown man." These are things you learn through life and mistakes are made. He shouldn't have to pay for the rest of his life for forgetting to clean out his car.
Again, I'm just shocked that some parents and people think he won't be held accountable for his actions outside the court system. You people don't think that his parents will let him forget how much hiring a lawyer cost for his dumb mistake? That every day at Cornell (knock on wood) he will thank people for having leniency? That many nights he will sweat thinking about what could have been had they not?
I can't speak for everyone, but the fact that it's even come this far is just horrible. 'Period!'
Posted by safety first, a member of the Gunn High School community, on Jun 5, 2010 at 4:59 am
Paly Grad 09, his parents are the ones purchasing toy guns, so I don't buy your argument that his parents will not let him forget how much a lawyer cost.
>>About two days before the Code Red episode, Healy had put the airsoft rifle in the trunk of his car to take it from his father's house to his mother's house in order to compare it to a new airsoft gun that had been purchased for his younger brother, he said.<<
There are too many excuses for his behavior. His lawyer has explanations for everything, that is his job.
Being a good student should not excuse anyone from carrying a weapon to school or from any other bad behavior.
>>"You can't blame them for calling the police, and you can't blame the police for responding as they did," Geffon said Thursday.<<
He committed a major mistake and he needs to be accountable for it. Stop try to blame the police or anyone else!
Posted by Denese, a resident of the Old Palo Alto neighborhood, on Jun 5, 2010 at 7:40 am
He should not be permitted to graduate and face criminal charges. What if this was a student with a 2.5 GPA and baptist. Would this change the fact that he bought a "two face masks, one spade shovel with a 4-inch pick, a hatchet with a removable saw and a military style knife with a 7-inch blade on a school campus.
This is what happens when you have money in Palo Alto. You can get away with anything.
Scott Peterson said he didn't kill his wife and went to meet his former girl friend with what items in his car.....
Posted by Louis, a resident of the Midtown neighborhood, on Jun 5, 2010 at 7:41 am
How about parental responsibility? When I was a kid (ages ago) my father taught me from the BB stage on to the deer hunting stage that you NEVER carry a gun of ANY kind unless you intend to use it. If you need to carry a gun (for example, to have it repaired) you empty the chamber and break the gun down.
Anything that looks like a REAL loaded gun can get you killed.
Posted by anonymous, a resident of the Duveneck/St. Francis neighborhood, on Jun 5, 2010 at 8:45 am
This was a frightening school incident and the police responded as they should.
The student should be held to the law and school rules. Otherwise there will be increasing disrespect for those laws and rules - they become a farce. The law and school rules must be applied equally to all. The fact this guy was accepted to Cornell is irrelevant.
The student should NOT be glorified and permitted to become a celebrity by "giving a speech" as a couple posters suggested. That's the absolute worst idea I read.
Airsoft guns truly sound stupid to me, I don't know anyone who plays with these - the idea that 60% of juniors/senior boys would have them in their cars, as suggested above, does not ring true to me. Please tell me this is not the case.
Posted by parent 2009, a resident of Los Altos Hills, on Jun 5, 2010 at 8:52 am
This student's lack of common sense may come from his family, but partly from school. He seems to be an important member of the robotics team, which at Gunn is an official class. This class is assembled to make a robot and to participate in competitions. It sucks most of the students' times between January and April. Good students are supposed to work in a closed room until 10 pm. This itself may not necessarily be a bad thing, but the problem is the kids are attended in a very limited way, and during the enormous unattended times some of the kids could be transformed to different characters who no longer understand the common sense. This class may need to be reevaluated. Perhaps it should be separate from the team which mainly does competitions but like other schools should be fully controled by teachers and mentors.
Posted by Balanced, a member of the Gunn High School community, on Jun 5, 2010 at 9:31 am
I’m not one who normally posts comments, but I am appalled at some of these last responses. This kid had a TOY in his Car, NOT a firearm (and Yes it did have an orange tip-as required by law). If functional, which his was not, it would have shot small plastic beads and been used in recreational play.
Although it is not too smart, it is also NOT a crime to carry this or the other gear, which included a camping knife, in his car. But it is against school rules. He had not parked on the campus in weeks, and made a poor last minute decision to drive into the school parking lot at the end of the school day. It was a mistake, not one that had any malicious intent, nor was anyone physically hurt because of this. And for those of you who say the other students were terrorized because of this. These "terrorized students" have rallied together to support him. Hundreds of them along with their parents and even some teachers have formed a petition asking to drop the charges and allow him to graduate with his class.
This isn’t about race, this isn’t about GPA, this isn’t about social class, it’s about being human. Its about having empathy. This kid has already been more than punished for making a mistake. He was handcuffed, jailed, crucified by the press and suspended. Gunn has already had enough casualties recently; do not make him the next one.
Posted by Alphonso, a resident of Los Altos Hills, on Jun 5, 2010 at 9:45 am
Way too many paranoid people out there. Dogmatic application of laws breeds disrespect for the "System".
Sure, the kid should face consequences for breaking the rules. One consequence, he should be required to briefly stand up at graduation and appologize and admit his actions were foolish. Taking a toy gun to school is against the rules and is a bad idea with so many hysterical parents out there.
I went to Gunn 42 years ago and at that time this incident would have not caused anyone to blink. Perhaps we face more risks today, but certainly we have allowed emotions to overwhelm rational thought.
Posted by parent, a resident of the Embarcadero Oaks/Leland neighborhood, on Jun 5, 2010 at 9:54 am
To all those people who think he should be further punished - expelled, charged with felonies, rescinded from Cornell, etc, are you crazy? As if being suspended for a week, arrested at gunpoint, and spending a night in jail is not enough punishment for him. Seriously, one stupid mistake should NOT scar the rest of his life - that would just be cruel. I've had enough of all of these hard-ass people in Palo Alto who seem to think that any slip up should be the cause of severe, life-changing punishment, yet consider themselves a "supportive" community that "encourages success."
Posted by Marvin, a resident of the Meadow Park neighborhood, on Jun 5, 2010 at 12:05 pm
Balanced, I fully support your reasoning and recommendation. This episode has been blown up so far out of reason by so many. It is disappointing to see anyone in our supposedly enlightened society overreact in so many ways to sensationalized reports in this case.
Where has judgment and compassion gone in our community?
Posted by Anon, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood, on Jun 5, 2010 at 12:45 pm
Posted by neighbor, a resident of another community, 2 hours ago:
>> If I had a child at Gunn, I would want them to respond exactly as they did to ANY kind of gun sighting. An overreaction to what turns out to be a non-emergency is better that erring on the other side.
Yes, neighbor, you can't be too safe. After all, you never know when a camcorder will turn out to be a gun after all:
Posted by Anon, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood, on Jun 5, 2010 at 1:00 pm
Balanced, a member of the Gunn High School community:
>>I’m not one who normally posts comments, but I am appalled at some of these last responses. This kid had a TOY in his Car, NOT a firearm (and Yes it did have an orange tip-as required by law). If functional, which his was not, it would have shot small plastic beads and been used in recreational play.
Balanced: I have not seen this stated so positively before. Has this (the orange tip) been confirmed by an authoritative source?
>> Although it is not too smart, it is also NOT a crime to carry this or the other gear, which included a camping knife, in his car. But it is against school rules. He had not parked on the campus in weeks, and made a poor last minute decision to drive into the school parking lot at the end of the school day. It was a mistake, not one that had any malicious intent, nor was anyone physically hurt because of this.
Balanced: I more or less agree with you, but, it *is* a violation of state law to bring these items on campus [but, not to transport them in your locked trunk]. Now, the knife ban is no doubt violated frequently and constantly, but, usually things like this only come up during something like this. People are frankly not used to worrying about what is in their car. Maybe they went to a baseball game with a barbecue in the park, complete with cooking utensils and steak knives -- but, it is different on school grounds. This is particularly problematic in Palo Alto, where some parks and school grounds are adjacent and essentially merged at certain times. "Intent" becomes murky in these cases. And if you live within 1000 feet of school grounds, you may technically be violating the law by transporting weapons from your house to your car parked on the public street unless they are in a locked case ...
We need some lawyers to educate us on exactly what is and is not legal. Ignorance of the law is no excuse, but, as I have attempted to read up on all the laws involved here, I find myself getting confused.
Posted by ANN, a member of the Gunn High School community, on Jun 5, 2010 at 3:12 pm
What if he was not a good student? My children are kind and honest and great, but they are not good students and they are not involved in after school activities. My kids are of color (mixed black and latino). How would the community respond if one of my kids who are not good students and will probably not go to a top college was in the same situation as Weston?
Why Weston's grades and the school that he will be attending so important for this article and for many people?
How different would it be if he was not a good student, not involved in other activities, or if he was not going to a good college? And what if he was black or latino like my own children? Just don't understand why being a good student, being involved in after school activities and being accepted in a top college can be used to make him not accountable for his mistake.
Posted by neighbor/alum, a resident of the Barron Park neighborhood, on Jun 5, 2010 at 5:36 pm
With all the hype and hyperbole regarding this incident -- 100 posts so far on this forum -- I momentarily transposed this story on to your Palo Alto Weekly cover story: is that an adult on your cover brandishing a potentially lethal weapon or a two-year-old with an egg beater? You know, a dough hook in well-trained hands could do a lot of damage.
Seriously, it's a good thing that the young man is innocent until proven guilty and if charged will have his day in court, and I hope be acquitted.
If this is a tragic "innocent mistake" that causes a wonderful young man to miss an opportunity, he would still be capable of making up for the setback. But in this post-Columbine, post-World Trade Center and Track Watch era, where even the best members of the best families can fall prey to maladies such as mental illness, destructive and self-destructive ideation, we unfortunately have to hope for the best and prepare for the worst.
My mouth to God's ear, I hope the young man in question continues on to a college education, be it Big Red, "Code Red" or other, and then comes back to our community and joins Palo Alto Police Department -- we need the cultural continuity that local recruits provide. Plus we have the best shrinks.
Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of Atherton, on Jun 5, 2010 at 6:08 pm
His lawyer should negotiate a plea bargain, have him plead Guilty ASAP and get a quick sentence to public service for the summer. With that resolved Gunn should give him his degree without attending graduation. I suspect that Cornell would be wise enough to recognize that he did make a mistake, that he accepted responsibility and would let him enter as planned.
The longer this drags out the more screwed up his young life will be no matter the outcome.
Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of Atherton, on Jun 5, 2010 at 6:24 pm
Weston - Don Kennedy said it much better than I can:
"Your dignity is a priceless asset. I don't mean social dignity -- the capacity to say the right thing, or to dress properly for the occasion. There is a deeper personal dignity that takes the hard shots with grace, doesn't look for the nearest place to dump the blame, and -- above all -- doesn't whine. No one can take your dignity away from you, but you can lose it. It is very much worth keeping."
Posted by Midtown Parent, a resident of the Midtown neighborhood, on Jun 5, 2010 at 7:31 pm
This student's grade point average made Gunn high school to look as a great school, he help the school. Now, he makes a mistake, like everyones else could and almost everyone ones him lynch, like the punisher said I would be worry if this was still allowed. No wonder our kids rather die, you want zero mistakes. You only want kids who make you (parents) the school and the city proud. Shame on all of you who want him punished. The school has been putting our children to so much, so they can stay on top of other schools, that our students are going crazy. Here is a student who even though works hard, still makes time to have fun with his air soft gun, caused harm to nobody (like Dr. Skelly said) and you still want him punished. Sorry Weston, I hope your parents are supporting you and accepting you with your mistakes.
Posted by kmom, a resident of the Greenmeadow neighborhood, on Jun 5, 2010 at 7:54 pm
PAPD-critic The only thing you said that is correct is that people are often treated unfairly due to race or color. And yet you are doing exactly the same thing to Weston, due to his race and color. People shouldn't be treated unfairly period. Let's try and spread that around.
Posted by Gunn parent, a member of the Gunn High School community, on Jun 5, 2010 at 10:20 pm
Neither Weston nor the other student planned to or did hurt anyone. The non functioning toy air soft gun and camping gear were in the trunk. They even turned themselves in. Hardly the act of hardened criminals.
There has been too much pain, suffering and loss of life already this year. Please show some compassion.
Posted by One Parent, a resident of the South of Midtown neighborhood, on Jun 6, 2010 at 12:03 am
Ann, Having nothing to do with race or ethnicity, it is a time honored tradition that we use markers such as activities, achievements, ambition, hard work as ways to take a person's measure with regard to his or her potential participation in and contribution to society. Most societies value people who work the hardest to prepare to make a contribution, whether it be in business, education, service, what ever the field, we tend to admire and value those who show dedication, discipline, purpose, integrity. As Martin Luther King suggested, it is right to judge a person by the content of his or her character. The continuous listing of this young man's achievements, which until recently included staying out of trouble, is our way of trying to take a measure of his character. No, we don't know whether he kicks dogs or takes out the trash. We're mainly speculating and actually know little about him. What we do know suggests that so far, he has spent his time well and promises to make a contribution if he isn't derailed by this event. Maybe a harsh punishment will be just the thing he needs to form him into a truly wonderful human being, or perhaps the best thing is to give him a break. I don't get to decide. What I do know is that his profile has no bearing on how your children are choosing to spend their time.
Posted by ANN, a member of the Gunn High School community, on Jun 6, 2010 at 1:49 am
"...markers such as activities, achievements, ambition, hard work as ways to take a person's measure with regard to his or her potential participation in and contribution to society."
I see those markers related to how far one will go in life as far as finding a high paying job and pursuing his own dreams, not so much in relation to contribution to society as a whole. And activities and achievements most of the time has a lot to do with opportunities given to those individuals and the reality of their day to day lives.
My kids are not "good" students, they are not involved in after school activities, they don't have achievements and they are not very hard working, but they are great kids and amazing human beings, and they are already great contributors to society because of their ethics and values. They speak up for themselves and anyone else when needed and they also apologize for their mistakes.
I am trying to have an open mind, but I just can't see why Weston grades, his after school activities and the school he will be attending should be relevant in this case. And I do wonder if was one of my mixed kids (black and latino) in this situation how would people be responding to it.
Posted by parent, a resident of the Midtown neighborhood, on Jun 6, 2010 at 2:33 am
There's the spirit of the law, and then there's the letter of the law. Justice is served when the latter is used to fulfill the former.
Our justice system doesn't rehabilitate people very well. This kid does need to pay for the consequences of his actions, probably damages to the city for the costs and community service. Beyond that, he'll learn a lot more from mercy than he will from having the book thrown at him. Kids make dumb mistakes, even smart kids do. It shouldn't destroy their lives and make them a burden on the community instead of an asset. He needs to make restitution, but in the end, the only thing that fulfills the spirit of the law here is a win-win negotiation, not a 'don't pass Go' sentence.
Sure, our system is also unfair, and disproportionately to people of color. But doing the wrong thing for EVERYONE doesn't make it fair either.
Posted by PAPD-Critic, a resident of the Barron Park neighborhood, on Jun 6, 2010 at 6:19 am
Posted by kmom, a resident of the Greenmeadow neighborhood, 9 hours ago
PAPD-critic The only thing you said that is correct is that people are often treated unfairly due to race or color. And yet you are doing exactly the same thing to Weston, due to his race and color. People shouldn't be treated unfairly period. Let's try and spread that around.
I said nothing about Westons race. Your inventing and reflecting your own racial biases.
Justice should be administrated and served equally period without regard to race. Again, kmom, a resident of the Greenmeadow neighborhood without regard to race!!
Jurisprudence should be blind.....unfortunately the historical record proves otherwise. I sincerely hope Weston is treated fairly by our judicial system - along with this candid post - Mr. Editor!
Posted by parent, a resident of the Greenmeadow neighborhood, on Jun 6, 2010 at 6:25 am
... but I just can't see why Weston grades, his after school activities and the school he will be attending should be relevant in this case...
This is unfortunately the Gunn High culture, contributed largely by extremely rich people on Loss Altos Hills (who often send their kids to robotics and other things that look good for college apps). Those who signed up for Facebook or ipetition to free Weston all approve of this culture....
Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of Atherton, on Jun 6, 2010 at 7:17 am
Weston - You are an adult, an Eagle Scout and smart. Don't hide behind your lawyers or your parents. Whatever happened happened. Sit down with the DA, admit what you did and agree on a suitable outcome. The DA is smart and wise enough to consider any mitigation circumstances and would be more than glad to resolve this without lengthy court proceedings.
Posted by Obvious, a resident of the Barron Park neighborhood, on Jun 6, 2010 at 8:13 am
"I am trying to have an open mind, but I just can't see why Weston grades, his after school activities and the school he will be attending should be relevant in this case. And I do wonder if was one of my mixed kids (black and latino) in this situation how would people be responding to it."
Well, these markers of "character" are really markers of wealth and fitting in with mainstream culture.
I think it's pretty obvious how people in this area would react to the situation if the student were black or latino. It would be doubly bad if the student was not an eagle scout who takes part in robotics.
Posted by Anon, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood, on Jun 6, 2010 at 8:14 am
Peter Carpenter, a resident of Atherton:
>> Weston - You are an adult, an Eagle Scout and smart. Don't hide behind your lawyers or your parents. Whatever happened happened. Sit down with the DA, admit what you did and agree on a suitable outcome. The DA is smart and wise enough to consider any mitigation circumstances and would be more than glad to resolve this without lengthy court proceedings.
You description sounds like the Juvenile justice system. Weston Healy is 18 and can only be charged as an adult in such a case.
>> Raise your hand, accept the foul and move on.
I'm sorry, but, this is extremely bad advice. As an adult, Weston is facing a system that is designed to charge the maximum possible and to prosecute to the best of its ability. It is an adversarial system in which the defendant is expected and required to have a good lawyer to advocate for the defendant. All the comments about "hiding behind lawyers" and "lawyering up" show lack of experience with the system as it exists today. In the old movies, you see people accepting responsibility (for things like robbing banks) and "paying their debt to society". Today, adult felony convictions will haunt you for the rest of your life.
At this point, we don't know what charges the DA's office thinks it can convict on, but, it isn't the DA's job to look out for Weston's interests, it is his lawyer's job. It is not fair to Weston Healy to criticize him for acquiring legal representation-- under our system, he is required to do so.
Posted by Parent, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood, on Jun 6, 2010 at 10:25 am
You run your kids down by saying that they are not good students. The good students are the ones that go to school, obey school rules, do their homework and stay out of trouble. Good students may not have high GPAs, but that doesn't stop them from being good students.
You obviously have great kids who you love and are doing you proud. They may not be involved in after school activities at school, but they do have free time and choose to spend it doing other things. Absolutely nothing wrong with that.
The fact that this particular student has a high GPA, is involved in Robotics and is an Eagle Scout shows how he spends his free time and who he hangs out with. He is a good student because of the fact that he goes to school, does his homework, doesn't get into trouble (until now) and not because of how he spends his free time. I personally wonder how he has had time to do all these things as well as get his drivers' licence as they all take up a great deal of time, but that is not what is being discussed here.
When a kid gets into trouble for the first time, it is natural to wonder how he spends his free time and who his friends are. These things tell us a little about the character of the kid. When we don't know how he spends his time, we wonder if he has been hanging out with the wrong crowd or been doing the type of things which may lead him into more serious trouble. If we know that the kid is at home, helping look after younger siblings, has a part time job, involved in their church, or any other wholesome activities, it helps to let powers that be know more about the character and shows that he is a good kid.
This is nothing about race, ethnicity or being a clever kid. It is much more about character and motive.
Posted by Parent, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood, on Jun 6, 2010 at 10:50 am
One more thing, I do not know Weston Healy and do not remember his race being mentioned or a picture published. His name does not give much of a clue to his ethnicity or his parentage and so we don't know unless we actually know him.
Posted by A Palo Alto parent, a resident of the Duveneck/St. Francis neighborhood, on Jun 6, 2010 at 11:30 am
Wow--lots of angry, vindictive people here. I guess none of you has ever made a mistake that spiraled out of control because of a few unfortunate coincidences, much less deliberately committed a misdemeanor (speeding, parking in a no-parking zone, not cleaning up after your dog, etc.) Do kids in Palo Alto have to be more than perfect?
Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of Atherton, on Jun 6, 2010 at 11:46 am
A Parent states:"Do kids in Palo Alto have to be more than perfect?"
No, but young though he may be Weston is, in the eyes of the law, an adult will all the privileges and responsibilities which that entails.
He knew the law and the school rules and he broke them - for whatever reason - as both he and his lawyer acknowledge.
Our system of jurisprudence is designed to now decide how to deal with that transgression. And the case should be decided on its merits.
Typically and properly the justice system utilizes issues of character and community service in determining the penalty not in determining whether someone broke the law.
Parent states:"Wow--lots of angry, vindictive people here" Not that I can see. I have read a lot of thoughtful comments here and many of them simply asking for a single standard of justice - that is neither anger or vindictiveness.
If he stands up, accepts that he broke the law and asks for leniency then I suspect he will do quite well. If he and his advocates ask for a different standard of justice then he will both fare poorly and carry a heavy burden later in life.
Posted by Alphonso, a resident of Los Altos Hills, on Jun 6, 2010 at 12:14 pm
"As an adult, Weston is facing a system that is designed to charge the maximum possible and to prosecute to the best of its ability. It is an adversarial system in which the defendant is expected and required to have a good lawyer to advocate for the defendant. All the comments about "hiding behind lawyers" and "lawyering up" show lack of experience with the system as it exists today."
Excellent point! There are a number of lessons to be learned from this incident. One is what to expect from the DA. The DA's staff takes an oath to "represent the people" and it's easy to assume that "representing the people" means they are interested in Justice for all including the defendants. Bad assumption! The only people the DA's organization is interested in is themselves. It is all about winning and losing and Justice is not part of that equation. I have a friend who used to be a DDA in San Mateo and his comment was " the more you get to know the Justice Systems the worse it looks". Yes, we are told our System of Justice is the best in the world (I don't believe that), but that is the same as saying our human waste smells better than it does everywhere else. It still stinks. There are plenty of Mike Nifongs out there. Legal representation is very important!!!
Remind your children that if they get in any sort of trouble, the police and the DA will not be their friends.
Posted by One Parent, a resident of the South of Midtown neighborhood, on Jun 6, 2010 at 1:50 pm
Ann, Being in this country is a wonderful opportunity. You have said here many things your kids don't do but you haven't said what they do. As someone who grew up in the U.S. but had absolutely no support from family, parents, community, I worked my way through high school and college and have made a good life and contributed much to my community. When a person works hard, prepares for a good career, stays out of trouble and uses his or her time well, this benefits us all unless their opportunities are used in destructive ways. Paying taxes, raising children, being creative, setting a good example, putting in a good day's work for a day's pay - all of these are good for us as a society. I hope you are teaching your two children about this and not telling them that only those with better opportunities should get out there and will be handed success for nothing. To be successful in life takes a lot of hard work, whether one is born in a wealthy supportive family or not. The most wealthy successful people I know are the most hard working. As someone whose only opportunity in life came from where I grew up, the USA, I know this to be true.
Posted by j, a member of the Gunn High School community, on Jun 6, 2010 at 2:06 pm
You people that are bringing in the race issue make me sick. Do you think for a moment, all the students are standing up for Weston because he's white? The people that know Weston, they know he would never mean any harm. THEY KNOW WESTON. It's not because he's white. If a black guy or a Mexican guy with a 2.0 GPA person came to campus with an Airsoft gun, if people knew him and knew he would never mean any harm, these people will stand up for him as well.
Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of Atherton, on Jun 6, 2010 at 2:14 pm
"this not "anon" of Palo Alto, it's "another anon" of Menlo Park."
It sure is hard to keep track of all these "anons" !
Just think how much more informative these forums would be if people had the courage to use their own names and give their real neighborhoods. The ability to evaluate source credibility would certainly improve.
Posted by matt, a member of the Escondido School community, on Jun 6, 2010 at 3:13 pm
notice that if you say a ''non white'' would not get ''justice'', a ''white'' person say that you are treating whites unfairly! like you cannot ever talk about racism because it will make it look like you dont want whites to get justice! that is precisely what racism is! if you get upset when someone says race is an ''issue'' , you immediately say someone does not like ''whites''. as if saying whites are ever unfair is means you are racist!! so one can NEVER talk about race?? that is racist!!!! nobody cares anymore about what whites think. we are going to bring justice no matter what you say ...
Posted by ANN, a member of the Gunn High School community, on Jun 6, 2010 at 3:35 pm
"I hope you are teaching your two children about this and not telling them that only those with better opportunities should get out there and will be handed success for nothing.... The most wealthy successful people I know are the most hard working."
I am not encouraging my children to be rich or to work hard to go to good colleges and find a high paying jobs. I encourage my children to be kind, generous and to care about people and the world they live in. My family's priority is definitely not wealth.
And, if any of my children had committed a major mistake they would be encouraged to apologize immediately and to take responsibilities for their actions. I would not be trying to find excuses for their behavior. Knowing my kids I know they would learn from their mistake, they would research all the harm that could have happened because of it and they eventually would become advocate to help other kids not commit the same mistake. Our family always find ways to learn and grow.
Posted by Resident, a resident of the Palo Verde neighborhood, on Jun 6, 2010 at 4:56 pm
Reminds me of airport security check these days - clear lack of common sense and judgement. Giving a hard time to a mom with baby food, making her pour out water from a bottle, while real terrorists on a no fly list get through.
Posted by A Palo Alto parent, a resident of the Duveneck/St. Francis neighborhood, on Jun 6, 2010 at 6:15 pm
Just because a person is arrested doesn't mean they committed a crime. It sounds like Healy broke school rules and is suspended, but it doesn't sound like there are any criminal charges. They're working with the DA to see if he can continue with high school after his suspension is over and walk with his class when he graduates.
Posted by One Parent, a resident of the South of Midtown neighborhood, on Jun 6, 2010 at 6:58 pm
Ann, Please read what I wrote rather than singling out one word and attacking what I said based on that. Encouraging your kids to be good and kind is great. However, when it comes to putting food on the table, most of us have to work. If you don't teach this to your kids and then you blame their lack of 'opportunity' when they are poor, and you cry racism, this is simply wrong.
Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of Atherton, on Jun 6, 2010 at 6:59 pm
Palo Alto Parent states:'They're working with the DA to see if he can continue with high school after his suspension is over and walk with his class when he graduates."
This would be a great outcome and one which does not require Weston to compromise his integrity. I believe that the justice system IS capable of being even handed and just and that people like Weston who accept responsibility for their actions are not treated unfairly.
Posted by ANN, a member of the Gunn High School community, on Jun 6, 2010 at 7:37 pm
One Parent, my kids don't need to have high GPAs, be part of competitive after school activities and have achievements to be great in life. They are being raised to be good to the world, to be caring and responsable, and to be accountable for their actions and mistakes. They will dedicated themselves in what they believe in and not for what looks good in a college application. And because I am raising them to be good, honest and kind, and not to pursue wealth it does not mean that they will be poor and I will be blaming it on lack of opportunity. Where did you get this idea from? We have different values and you might not be able to understand that people have different purposes in life.
Good grades, achievement, acceptance in top colleges and after school activities has nothing to do with what a person's caracter and how good they will be to society. That's my opinion. Goodbye now.
Posted by Onoe Gunn Mom, a member of the Gunn High School community, on Jun 6, 2010 at 8:11 pm
You need to know that the school did not see the gun, did not report the gun to the police, and did not call the lockdown!
The gun was seen on a public street by a city employee who called the police. The police notified the school of the situation and the police called the lockdown and the code red. It is NOT the responsibility of the school to do the threat assessment--it is job for the police.
Please do NOT blame the school for this situation. The kid did a very DUMB thing (and I cannot tell you how many dumb things I see Gunn kids do every day--jaywalk across Miranda with earbuds--I am amazed no one has been hit; bike the wrong way on Arastradero, drive to fast in the parking lot (and sometimes with someone on the hood); stop and let kids in/out of their cars on Arastradero, etc.) but don't blame the school for him being in trouble. The only one to blame is this kid.
Let's hope it all works out in the end and let's hope he learns something from this.
Posted by One Parent, a resident of the South of Midtown neighborhood, on Jun 6, 2010 at 8:21 pm
"And activities and achievements most of the time has a lot to do with opportunities given to those individuals and the reality of their day to day lives.
My kids are not "good" students, they are not involved in after school activities, they don't have achievements and they are not very hard working, but they are great kids and amazing human beings, and they are already great contributors to society because of their ethics and values."
Posted by mom of a high schooler, a resident of the Old Palo Alto neighborhood, on Jun 6, 2010 at 9:40 pm
Judgment. Have we lost our ability as a community to use judgment? To see things as they really are, not as they potentially, might-have-been, could-have-been, once-upon-a-time-in a land far far away, were? It seems we have become so charged up to be paranoid by the most innocuous every day things, that we can't see the forest through the trees. We are teaching our children that we should be afraid, constantly…that the boogeyman is just around the corner waiting to get us. Either that or how inept we adults are at assessing a situation. Is it appropriate to immediately suppose a situation should be interpreted at the highest level of possible violence? Just how far it too far with community fear? I feel for the whole Gunn community which has now been subject, tragically, to unnecessary, severe stress. We need to renew our commitment to judgment in this community. Yes crime happens, and we are extremely grateful for the fine work of PAPD to keep us safe from violent crime. But for us in the community, judgment: Each step in the event at Gunn, taken independently, was correct, but taken as a whole, the process yielded a life-long traumatizing experience to an entire high school community - the results were emotionally disastrous for the Gunn community. This Gunn event reminds us how important it is that we exercise judgment in how we should respond to a problem that may or may not be a violent crime. Please leaders, review the process; community, review the process. Think about how we all can live safely, but not in paranoia. We are smart enough to come up with a process that yields the results we need with a better total outcome.
Posted by One Gunn Mom, a member of the Gunn High School community, on Jun 6, 2010 at 10:07 pm
Mom of a high schooler,
Yes, judgement is the issue here. Judgement by an 18 year old. In this case the judgement by the student was poor. But it is not necessarily any differnt for any 18 year old--that part of the brain is the last to develop--and maybe not until 22-25 years old.
I asked my teenage (19 and 17) boys about this and they agreed this kid was wrong--they teach this in school from the early grades. But seniors feel they are entitled and act superior.
And yes, the world is not safe. The Comumbine community (Littleton CO) is not very different from ours--similar economic and education profile.
Posted by observer, a resident of the Green Acres neighborhood, on Jun 6, 2010 at 11:29 pm
You wrote: " There are a number of lessons to be learned from this incident. One is what to expect from the DA. The DA's staff takes an oath to "represent the people" and it's easy to assume that "representing the people" means they are interested in Justice for all including the defendants. Bad assumption! The only people the DA's organization is interested in is themselves. It is all about winning and losing and Justice is not part of that equation."
The adversarial nature of the system seems to lead to an assumption that justice will flow the adversarial process, when it really means there will always be conflict and only sometimes truth and justice. In an adversarial system focused on winning a conflict, people try to get away with whatever they can, and this unfortunately for all of us is not differentiated from a quest for justice. Truth and justice really ought to be everyone's primary goal. I agree with you, it's not.
The Constitution guarantees us certain rights if we are accused, and they are important rights. In no way does it make this adversarial system we have holy or immutable.
Posted by Another mom, a resident of the Palo Verde neighborhood, on Jun 7, 2010 at 9:04 am
My goodness, people! Yes, judgement is the issue here for all, for the 18 yr old, for the city employee, for teh school administration, for the police. What happened to people's common sense? It was an innocent mistake that did not cause any harm to anyone, and if people would have used their common sense there would not have been such an overreaction with code red alert, etc. I am shocked that the question of whether the student would or would not be able to walk with his class at graduation is actually on the table. Of course he should!!! I feel sorry for the kid and kid's family. School administration should instead direct its efforts at drugs and bullying at school - all kids know who sells drugs in high school
Posted by HPA, a resident of the Barron Park neighborhood, on Jun 7, 2010 at 12:05 pm
We need to stop saying that kids are GOOD just because they get GOOD grades. Getting into a GOOD college does not make a PERSON good. Getting GOOD grades is mostly about the rather selfish process of making one's own life/future better. This does not in any way speak to whether or not the person is good. I do not know the student involved maybe he is a good person, but maybe he is not. However, I do know that equating being a GOOD student with being a GOOD person, hurts all our kids (and damages our community).
Of course, being an Eagle Scout does imply decent character, but this lawyer is improperly using the press to change the outcome of the case.
There is absolutely no reason that GOOD students should be treated BETTER than others.
Posted by Teenage perspective, a resident of Los Altos Hills, on Jun 7, 2010 at 7:34 pm
I have been in classes with Weston, and I can vouch for his character; very upbeat, optimistic and polite. I think this could have happened to anyone; airsofting is a very popular sport among teens these days; I personally have accidentally driven onto campus with my little brother's toy airsoft gun in the back of my car without giving it a second thought. It's a TOY. Of course I wouldn't have brought a weapon to school, but removing a toy gun before I drove on campus never crossed my mind. It has been drilled into our heads not to bring anything hazardous to school, but one rarely thinks twice about toys. The GRT (Gunn Robotics) stuff he dropped off was completely harmless (or at least as harmless as material to build a robot could be). I have confidence in our community that no matter the background of the student, parents and students in this situation would have been equally supportive and find it equally ridiculous this has been blown so far out of proportion.
Posted by Gunn Graduating Student, a member of the Gunn High School community, on Jun 7, 2010 at 8:22 pm
I just wanted to say a couple of things:
Grades has a strong correlation to a person's work ethic which often relates to a person's personality. That's why it's being mentioned on the article. Yes, it doesn't define a person's being, but it still does provide a guideline (as seen by when we applied to colleges).
Furthermore, I am just... annoyed about what people are just INFERRING from the article.
"You can't blame them..." --> How does this jump to "OMG, so you shouldn't call the police the next time someone brings a gun."
Is he blaming them? No. He's saying that the school and the police took an appropriate course of action.
And parents, you obviously don't realize how many of Gunn students DO bring their airsoft rifles to school. It's a very popular sport. Should they ALL be expelled then? Are you going to have the police break open all car trunks?
Weston put it in his trunk for the purpose of letting the gun not be seen as to not cause panic. I doubt he thought while driving in, someone would spot it.
I believe that yes, Weston deserves punishment, but not to the extreme such as getting expelled. He had NO INTENT to harm anyone. Expelling him would NOT set an example - in fact, it would just make a lot of students lose faith in our community.
I would also like to say that despite everything, I am still proud to be a Gunn student because it is still a good school.
Posted by parent 2009, a resident of Los Altos Hills, on Jun 7, 2010 at 9:40 pm
Weston's classmate's comments should be discounted. How good a student he is is completely besides the point. Would things be easier if the student were associated with the PAUSD Superintendent? Also, how could we be convinced that the Gunn Robotics stuff he dropped off was completely harmless? Is every material for a robot completely safe?
Posted by G TOWN, a resident of East Palo Alto, on Jun 7, 2010 at 10:38 pm
So sad to see how who you are and where your from matters more than the issue.let that would happen in my neck of the woods you would be locked up regaedless of education status.this person so smart to have made dumb choice.he knew better bottom line make an example out of this student and lock him up and put him on supervised probation.would you agree a person with such character should be monitor his parents must let him do more than he should .how could he think this was smart to do maybe cool in my days but not today.what were the ski mask for? where im from we used them to pump fear and hide who we are .has that changed not where im from.
Posted by G TOWN, a resident of East Palo Alto, on Jun 7, 2010 at 10:49 pm
What do i tell my kids when somebody brings a fake gun to school.dont worry it was fake.how about i say here take this and defend yourself so u will make it home safe.sounds crazy i bet.when i here give him a break that sounds crazzzzzy.
Posted by G TOWN, a resident of East Palo Alto, on Jun 7, 2010 at 11:25 pm
IF YOU ARE A PRAENT AND FEEL SORRY FOR THIS STUDENT YOUR FAILING AS A PARENT.Guns are not to be played with fake or real.if this kid was from east palo alto with the same stats would the headlines read different of course.its not about where your from its where your at and what you have.youg african boy from the hood parents wont bail him out make his ***pay the price thats how we learn the hard way.this kids parents are tyring to bail him out right along with his comunity.mistake you type people are not funny.he at home laughing while reading about himself.dont forget this ,what makes u laugh can make you cry later.your about to be an adult act like it
Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of Atherton, on Jun 8, 2010 at 1:40 pm
Ok, let's review the facts and then my opinion.
Facts - the incident occurred as it was reported. Nobody has disputed that Weston took a gun onto the Gunn campus and then took it out of his car and placed it in the trunk of his car while on campus. A campus lockdown ensued. Weston was arrested. The charges, if any, have not been made public.
Now, 12 days later he has neither publicly taken responsibility or apologized. The only public statement has come from his lawyer.
My opinion - Weston knew the school rules and he broke them, therefore he should receive appropriate disciplinary action as is determined by the school. He should be treated the same as any other student without regard to his race, gender, personal accomplishments or socioeconomic status.
IF he broke a civil or criminal law, and I do not know if he has, then he and his lawyer should make a plea bargain based on his accepting responsibility for his actions and let the DA or a Judge determine how to proceed. His past criminal record or lack thereof and his personal accomplishments should be a factor in determining not his guilt but in determining the appropriate remedy.
Weston should then get on with his life.
I am open to correction if my statement of the facts is wrong and to suggestions if you feel that my proposed outcome is wrong, unfair, too harsh or too lenient.
Posted by Lisa, a resident of the Barron Park neighborhood, on Jun 8, 2010 at 2:16 pm
Yes, I agree Peter. As far as the information spun by Weston's lawyer, we don't even know if this version is the story he gave to police at the time he was detained. Neither does the article say this version was part of a sworn statement given by Weston to the DA. For all we know, his lawyer's story is simply posturing and intended to gain public sympathy for Weston.
The original article in the SJ Mercury said that Weston's arraignment was scheduled for Thursday. Assuming it happens, we may know more at that time.
Weston's very lucky he or someone else wasn't hurt by his actions. Say what you want about the PAPD, but they are very good at what they do. The PAPD has plenty of experience with high profile cases and will be able test the veracity of his lawyer's claims. None of this is going to be decided in this forum, so we'll just have to wait and see what unfolds.
Posted by Lena, a member of the Nixon School community, on Jun 8, 2010 at 3:00 pm
The kid has apologized already, but not to paloaltoonline bloggers:)In this day and age it was smart for parents to hire a lawyer, to ensure that the school and press reacts to the incident appropriately and within the law. This is a good kid who unintentionally set the alarm off, get over it, better direct your energy at drugs in schools. People who sell them to school students are real criminals who need to be persecuted with all the might displayed by some in this blog. Weston, if you read this - do not get too upset, we know you are a good person and did not mean harm to anyone.
Posted by ex grt member, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood, on Jun 8, 2010 at 5:22 pm
They were just stupid. They shouldn't have brought in anything that would look like a weapon when others were present. It'd have no problem if they'd brought even real guns during the build period or one of summer sessions when no responsible adults are present and loud music is on.
Posted by neighbor, a resident of another community, on Jun 8, 2010 at 8:59 pm
Here's a lesson, kid:
Everyone screws up. You brought a gun to school. In this violent world, that's a big deal. You scared a lot of people. You weren't thinking. There are no excuses. Apologize to your friends, family and your community. Learn something from the act of apologizing, instead of having people excuse wrong behavior.
When my daughter graduated from Stanford, then University President Kennedy had to retire from the post after making some very public very bad decisions. His message in his speech to the grads that year: When you make a mistake have the courage to own up to it, take the fault, and then remember it so that when you are faced with right/wrong choices in the future you'll be more likely to make better choices.
This kid should be glad he will have the opportunity to move on -- he's not going to jail. We all know that if he was not a good student from PA going to Cornell (or just if he was non-white) the story would have been very different. The 200+ letters in this thread would have called for a very different outcome.
Posted by Anon, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood, on Jun 8, 2010 at 9:38 pm
PAPD-Critic, a resident of the Barron Park neighborhood, wrote:
>> If anyone has any doubts as to the seriousness of the alleged crime committed by this Gunn high school student. Read the following news story "hot" off the wire:
>>Ex cop gets 30 years behind bars - "During the trial, Starling's defense centered on the sole issue of whether he used an actual firearm or a look-alike "air-soft gun," prosecutors said."
I guess the bank robber didn't have much of a defense, since, he would have gotten the same result if he had claimed to have a gun in a bag or in his pocket. This has nothing to do with Weston's Healy's case since Weston Healy did not rob a bank and had no intention to use the airsoft gun to rob or injure anyone. He used it and intended to use it for recreation.
It is shocking that someone believes that these cases have anything to do with each other.
Posted by PAPD-Critic, a resident of the Barron Park neighborhood, on Jun 8, 2010 at 10:10 pm
Posted by Anon, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood.
You failed to see the point! "air-soft gun" Did not Weston use or have in his possession an "air-soft gun" in his trunk, lap, person? Don't answer it just mite get worse.....The fact is he went directly to jail and now it's in the hand of the "prosecutors". That was my point!!
Posted by Mark Breier, a member of the Gunn High School community, on Jun 9, 2010 at 9:15 am
This is no different than a code red response finding a 4-year-old with a squirt gun.
Enough already with the police and school responses. It was a MISTAKE, for heaven's sake.
In statistics and corporate excellence, this is a "false positive" and you need to reduce them because they are are resource inefficient. You shift your resources to the "false negatives" (the real threats that you didn't catch) Let's get on to that.
Posted by member, a resident of another community, on Jan 13, 2011 at 11:15 pm
its pretty obvious these are not "gangbangers" or any type of illegal street characters but rather just kids with level heads who made a poor decision that should be paid for via being suspended for a period of time. no legal actions should have ensued, it should have been left up purely for the school to discipline them in a reasonable fashion. it would be pathetic and a waste to see their future wrecked because of acts done as a minor