A Vermont teen accused of planning a school shooting that ultimately impacted the state’s gun laws, Jack Sawyer, is due in court Tuesday afternoon and, according to a top public defender in the state, he might be released following a bail hearing.
Sawyer had been held without bail after being arrested back in February on charges that included attempted aggravated murder after allegedly planning a shooting againstFair Haven Union High School.
Around a week ago, however, the Vermont Supreme Court ruled that his shooting plans did not reach the legal definition of an attempt, saying that “preparation alone” was not enough, ultimately sending the case back to the lower court for a bail hearing.
According to the Associated Press, attorney Marshall Pahl, who is representing Sawyer, who also believes that he might be released following the bail hearing, issued the following statement:
“The evidence in this case shows that the defendant had no plans to commit the target offense for at least a month at the time he was arrested.”
Vermont’s governor Phil Scott has called for a domestic terrorism law, wanting changes made before an April 23 deadline, after students attending Fair Haven Union High School return from vacation. That said, the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee has said that it is unlikely for the law to be passed by that time. According to Vermont’s official state website, Scott has also issued the following statements over the case:
“Based on the evidence in the public record, it is clear the individual intended and still intends to carry out a horrific crime.”
“I’ve heard from the school’s superintendent as well as the Rutland County legislative delegation on the fear and frustration the community is feeling, and I share that frustration and concern.”
In addition, Scott signed a bill creating extreme risk protection orders last Wednesday, which will take effect this upcoming October, although the judge granted it in Sawyer’s case. Scott was reportedly inspired to toughen gun laws after reading a notebook titled “The Journal of an Active Shooter,” which Sawyer reportedly kept.
Who is Jack Sawyer?
Sawyer, who was 18 at the time of the incident, moved from Maine back to Poultney, Vermont, purchased a shotgun and ammunition in what was allegedly part of a plot to shoot his former high school, Fair Haven Union High School, planned to take place on March 14. That said, he had not visited the school or even visited the town where it was located after returning to Vermont.
Last week, a judge signed an extreme risk protection order to remove any guns from Sawyer’s home upon a release from bail.
Sawyer has pleaded not guilty as is currently being held without bail. If convicted of attempted aggravated murder, he would be automatically sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.