Loveland — A 16-year-old Loveland High School junior has been told not to come back to class until the school can conduct a full investigation into an anonymous tip to “Safe-2-Tell” of a “threatening” Snapchat by the student.
Rocky Mountain Gun Owners, a Northern Colorado-based Pro Second Amendment organization, posted on Facebook that it would supply the family with legal representation if the student’s story “bears out as first reported.”
Nathan Myers and his mother Justine Myers said the Snapchat video of several handguns was taken while the family was preparing to spend the afternoon at a shooting range on Tuesday. The caption on it: “Finna be lit,” was simply Nathan’s way of saying he was excited to be out shooting with his family using slang in common use among his peers, Nathan said.
According to Urban Dictionary, an online crowd-sourced collection of slang definitions, the word “finna” is also used in place of the word “gonna,” and according to Meriam-Webster, “lit” is slang for “excited.”
Complete Colorado sent Weld County Sheriff Steve Reams the Snapchat with no context to what was happening and asked him how he would interpret the post, he said it appeared to him someone got a new gun and was excited to go shoot it.
When told of the outcome, Reams could not believe one person’s fears were causing such a shakeup for another. He said this is the perfect example of the damage the Red Flag Law could do.
“People base their apprehension on their own paradigm and their own fear of guns and gun culture,” Reams said. “One kid is totally excited to go out and train on how to use a gun responsibly, while another kid is totally freaked out about seeing a gun.”
Justine said she and her husband took Nathan shooting yesterday because he hadn’t been in a while.
“We had a great day,” Justine said. “This is what we do. Nathan has been shooting many times with us. We are huge Second Amendment supporters.”
Nathan, who lives full time with his father, said it was the first time he’d seen his mom in a couple of weeks and he was excited to go, which is what led to the Snapchat.
“While we were at her house getting ready to go, I took a video of five or six pistols and an AR-15,” Nathan said. “None of them were loaded, they were all in their cases.”
However, when the family came down from the mountains, Nathan’s father had left several messages for Justine about police officers at his home questioning Nathan’s intentions.
“His father told them he was out shooting with me, I am an avid shooter,” Justine said. “So, the officers said he wasn’t in trouble and left.”
When Nathan woke up Wednesday morning, the Thompson Valley School District (TVSD) had other ideas. They left a message telling his father Nathan should not to come to school until a full investigation could be conducted.
“I called to ask why I couldn’t go, and they said it was a safety concern because the student who reported it was scared I was going to shoot up the school,” Nathan said, adding, in three years at Loveland High School he has never had a conflict with another student.
Nathan admitted his not very focused on academics, but added he has a clean criminal record, and a full group of friends with no reason for anyone to be afraid of him. But what frustrated him the most, was the fact the school district wouldn’t allow him access to missed work.
“I already struggle in school enough as it is,” Nathan said. “Missing a few days will really put me far behind.”
Thompson Valley School District spokesman Michael Hausmann said the district could not comment on the specific incident but included a link to the district’s policy on makeup work for a like situation. It says: “Suspended students will be provided an opportunity to make up school work during the period of suspensions, so the student is able to reintegrate into the educational program of the district following the period of suspension. Students will receive full or partial academic credit to the extent possible for make-up work which is completed satisfactorily.”
Nathan has a 10 a.m. hearing on Thursday with the school district.
Reams said in this case, because of an anonymous tool for students to report their fears, a kid has now been adjudicated by the school district until he can prove his innocence for a crime he didn’t commit.
“This is exactly the mechanics of the Red Flag Law,” Reams said. “Someone filed an anonymous complaint, without the other person knowing it was being filed, but instead of him being deprived of his Second Amendment rights, he’s being deprived of his ability to go to school without due process.”
This is not the first time TVSD and Loveland High School have called into question Nathan and his family’s support of the Second Amendment. When Nathan was a freshman, he was caught doodling a Glock 45 in class.
School resource officers pulled him out of class and told him he knew way too much about guns. He was not suspended that time, but school administration required his dad to sign a statement allowing him back into class, Nathan said. He has also been questioned about a Second Amendment sticker on his truck, his mother said.
“I understand these are the times, as a parent, I’m grateful,” Justine said. “But you have a police officer say there is no threat. And then I call the district and explain those are my firearms; those are all mine; we were shooting; there is no threat, and I have video of all of us shooting to back all this up.”
Reams said if this would have occurred with the Red Flag law in place, and if Loveland police would have believed that Nathan might be a threat, they could have not only confiscated any guns in his possession, but any guns in the homes of both parents where they might believe he has access, taking away others’ Second Amendment rights in the process.
“He exercised his First Amendment right to use his Second Amendment right,” Reams said. “I hope this doesn’t make him fear that in the future.”