A shooting on Britton–Hecla School property last week Wednesday has left a student facing charges and forced some changes in school policy.
Marshall County Sheriff Dale Elsen said that Dusty Groom, 18, of rural Lake City and a junior at the school, was showing other boys what he thought was an unloaded .22 caliber handgun about 4 p.m. in the parking lot just east of the school. The gun went off and hit 17-year-old Britton–Hecla junior Brody Heitmann in the head.
Heitmann, the son of Brad Heitmann of Eden, was taken to the Marshall County Healthcare Center where he was treated and then taken by helicopter to the Sanford Medical Center in Fargo, ND. Elsen said the sheriff’s department received a call from the Britton hospital emergency room about the shooting about 4:25 p.m.
According to his father, the bullet hit Heitmann in the head behind the left ear, followed the skull around and exited the back of the skull. He was hospitalized in Fargo until Thursday evening, and is now back at school.
“He had some swelling on the brain and some broken blood vessels inside the brain,” said Brad Heitmann, “and he’s had some headaches and peripheral vision issues. He will get another scan on Thursday, and if things are okay, he will be released to be able to compete in contact sports after 30 days.
“Brody was really lucky,” added his dad. “About an eighth of an inch further in, or a bigger caliber gun, and it would have been a different story. They don’t understand how the bullet never entered the brain. His guardian angel must have been working overtime that day. He’s recovering nicely, and I’m happy to have him here.”
Groom faces misdemeanor charges of reckless discharge of a firearm, possession of a firearm on school property, and false reporting to authorities, according to Elsen. He was released to his parents on a $2,500 personal recognizance bond, and his initial court appearance is scheduled for May 20.
Elsen said reports of the incident have been filed with the Marshall County States Attorney to rule on current charges and any other possible charges.
Britton–Hecla Superintendent Kevin Coles said that school policy states that any student taking a firearm to school will be expelled for no less than 12 months. He also said, according to policy, that the superintendent has the authority to recommend to the school board that the expulsion requirement be modified on a case-by-case basis.
Coles said Tuesday that he could not release any information on students involved due to privacy laws, but said that the board will discuss and act on the issue at its regular meeting Monday.
Coles did say that there has been a change in school policy concerning the DX parking lot east of the school. Loitering will no longer be permitted. Students attending school or involved in a school event are allowed to park in the lot, but students are no longer allowed to use the parking lot as a gathering place.
“This event spurred some comments from the public about activities in that parking lot, and it was time to clean that up,” said Coles. “We will communicate those expectations to the students, and seek voluntary compliance from them.”