A juvenile was sentenced to 40 years in prison on Thursday for his involvement in a shooting that left one person injured and another dead outside Lamar High School in Arlington.
District Court Judge Alex Kim announced the 16-year-old’s sentence, which was unanimously determined by the jury. However, the judge also noted the teenager could be released when he turns 19 based on a future hearing that will determine whether he should be turned over to the Texas Department of Criminal Justice or given probation, NBC 5 DFW reported.
Assistant District Attorney Lloyd Whelchel spoke on Thursday before sentencing to rally for the maximum penalty.
“How many school shootings do we have to have for us to get a clue? Send a message to the community that there is accountability for this kind of behavior,” he said to the jury, as reported by NBC 5.
“He needs to be held accountable so we know we will be safe from him for the next 40 years,” Whelchel said.
In March, the convicted juvenile arrived at school just before 7 a.m. He fired a shotgun at students, injuring one and killing 16-year-old Ja’Shawn Poirier, as previously reported by The Dallas Express.
During a June hearing, prosecutors said the juvenile told doctors that he fired into the crowd after seeing two students he claimed sexually assaulted him the year prior. Additionally, the juvenile’s aunt claimed he “has some undiagnosed issues.”
The defense was granted a psychological evaluation after claiming the juvenile had no history of criminal activity or drug use.
Gun-related violence occurs frequently around the metroplex, especially in Dallas. Just a few days after the shooting at Lamar High School, another school shooting happened at a Dallas ISD campus in North Dallas.
“We all know that violence is up in our Dallas community. … We can’t contribute to the normalizing of guns in our communities,” Superintendent Stephanie Elizalde said back in March.
As of September 22, there have been 180 murders logged by the Dallas Police Department, an increase of over 7% year over year, according to the City of Dallas Open Data crime overview dashboard.
DPD has been struggling to keep murders down amid a serious staffing shortage. The department currently maintains a force of fewer than 3,200 officers. A City report previously recommended that Dallas needs about 4,000 on staff.
Downtown Dallas has been especially affected by the shortage, consistently logging higher crime rates than Fort Worth’s downtown area. The latter is reportedly patrolled by a special neighborhood police unit and private security guards.