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Thursday, December 7, 2023
Courthouse News Service
Thursday, December 7, 2023 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

Landmark Charge Against Gun-Carrying Teen’s Mom

LOS ANGELES (CN) - A mother who let her 17-year-old son take a loaded firearm to school faces criminal charges, the Los Angeles city attorney said Wednesday.

This is the first time the City Attorney's Office has ever brought a safe-storage charge against a parent.

"Guns have no place in or around our schools," city attorney Mike Feuer said. "Our office will continue to take aggressive action to protect our kids. And I call on parents to prevent potentially devastating consequences by safely storing every firearm they own."

The charges come after a student at the Will Rogers Continuation School in Van Nuys told teachers on May 13, 2014, that one of her classmates had shown her a gun in his backpack.

Prosecutor Greg Dorfman said the .45 caliber semi-automatic was loaded with seven rounds of ammunition, and the boy was also carrying an additional six rounds in the bag.

The boy, whose name was withheld from the court record because of his juvenile status, had been involved in an "altercation" with a classmate the day before, city attorneys say.

Though authorities were denied access to the teen's home on the day of the incident, the LAPD Gun Unit returned the next day with a warrant. Officers allegedly found a .44 Magnum Revolver, a Smith & Wesson .38, a .22 semi-automatic handgun in an unlocked kitchen cabinet, and a 12-gauge shotgun.

None of the weapons were stored or locked away, Dorfman said.

"The combination of ingredients here could have been lethal," Feuer said.

Leah Devahn Wilcken, a white, single mother living in the Northeast area of the city, was charged Wednesday with allowing a child to carry a firearm off premises; allowing a child to take a firearm to school; contributing to the delinquency of a minor; and permitting a child to be placed in a situation where their person or health is endangered.

She faces one year in jail for each count and a $1,000 fine. Feuer wants a judge to bar Wilcken from possessing any weapons.

The city attorney said that the charges stem from a nationwide initiative to educate the public about the dangers of not storing weapons safely at home.

Margot Bennett with Woman Against Gun Violence will hold one-hour workshops for families as part of the city attorney Neighborhood School Safety Program.

Bennett said the group gave away 3,000 gun locks, and trained 10,000 families on how to discuss the contentious issue of gun ownership with friends and neighbors.

"Studies show that 68 percent of school shootings involve a gun brought from the home," Bennett said. "So, we applaud the city attorney's efforts to enforce the laws that will keep our children and communities safe."

As part of enforcing city-issued gang injunctions in the Glendale corridor, Los Angeles is working with police to identify people who are illegally in possession of firearms, Feuer added.

"There is no reason for parents to fail to safely store their weapon," Feuer said. "There are simple, basic steps that you can take if you lawfully possess a weapon to be sure it is safely stored."

"Let's prevent the problem in the first place, rather than reacting after the fact to a tragedy," the prosecutor added.

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