Charges dropped against airman who carried gun into Va. school

Loudoun County prosecutors have dropped charges against a U.S. Air Force airman arrested for carrying his sidearm into a Leesburg high school while on a recruiting visit.

Mi Allah J. Grant will not face felony charges for possessing a firearm on school property, the Loudoun County Office of the Commonwealth’s Attorney office said Wednesday. The 18-year-old airman was arrested on March 19 while in the school as part of an Air Force recruiting outreach effort.

Prosecutors described Grant as an active-duty member of the Air Force awaiting deployment to Japan, tasked with running a recruitment table on premises March 19. He had attended Tuscarora High School as part of his high school career.

Grant was granted access to the building through the proper channels, in-uniform and openly displaying his holstered sidearm. Prosecutors say Grant set up a table with brochures on Air Force careers in the hallway, and “was seen interacting positively with students and hugging teachers whom he knew.”

Ultimately, he was approached and apprehended by a school security officer, requesting Grant surrender his firearm. Grant cooperated with law enforcement, and prosecutors described him as “polite, cooperative and respectful,” and there were no acts of aggression or threatening displays toward any individual with whom he interacted.

Grant believed his status as an airman gave him the ability to carry a firearm on school property. A review of Grant’s digital media revealed pictures with his firearm prosecutors called “immature and ill-advised,” but did not indicate a threat to the school, instead appearing typical of somebody with imminent military deployment.

Although possession of a firearm on school property is a Class 6 felony offense under Virginia state law, the Loudoun County prosecutor’s office chose not to pursue charges, citing Grant’s academic history and lack of a threat to the school or a person.

“Every indication in this investigation reflects a naive young man that entered a school believing, due to his military status, that it was OK for him to carry a firearm there,” Loudoun County Commonwealth’s Attorney Jim Plowman said in a statement.

“While ignorance of the law is certainly no defense, there are times when prosecutorial discretion not to prosecute a case should be exercised, and in my opinion, this is one of those times.”

Grant had been held in custody since March 19, and was released on March 27 with the dismissal of charges. The Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Office said it had no information on how the incident will be treated by the Air Force.

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