Details about an alleged threat to a Betsy Layne High School student emerged during a bond hearing held in Floyd Circuit Court on Monday.
The bond hearing was held on Dec. 3 in a felony case against Andrew Jacob Prater, 18.
Prater was 17 years old at the time he was arrested in March for allegedly bringing a gun onto Betsy Layne High School property. Officials reported he had stopped attending that school several months prior to the alleged incident and had no business there.
His name was not publicly released until he was indicted by a Floyd County grand jury on Oct. 31 and his arrest warrant was filed on Nov. 13.
In the case, he faces felony charges of unlawful possession of a weapon on school property and first-degree wanton endangerment, misdemeanor charges of possession of drug paraphernalia and driving on a suspended license and a violation of minors not to possess or purchase alcohol.
During a hearing about the bond that should be set in this case on Monday, Floyd County Commonwealth’s Attorney Brent Turner explained why Prater was indicted on the wanton endangerment charge.
At the time of Prater’s arrest, officials with the school district and the Floyd County Sheriff’s Department reported that Prater did not threaten any student on the day he allegedly brought a gun onto school property. Turner explained in court Monday, however, that Prater allegedly threatened a student with a gun days prior to the alleged incident.
“In this case what we have, judge, is the defendant was caught on school grounds with a handgun and ammunition in his car, along with $360 in cash, digital scales and bags with traces of marijuana, which, I think was the basis, obviously, for the possession and the weapon charge,” Turner said. “But, prior to that, and also, I think, under investigation at the time that this happened … was an allegation that he had pointed the gun at a student there, maybe at the bottom of the hill there where the school is located, several days before this.”
Turner said that alleged threat is why his office is seeking a substantial bond for Prater, who has been incarcerated about 30 days. He told Circuit Judge Johnny Ray Harris that the $10,000 cash bond current set for Prater is reasonable in light of the charges in this case and public safety concerns.
Prater’s attorney Athanasia Lewis, however, believes otherwise. She is seeking a reduction in Prater’s bond
“Well, your honor, first off, Mr. Prater is adamant that he never pointed a weapon at anyone,” she said. “Second off, he was free for a good four months prior to his indictment and had no actual occurrences during that time. His whole entire family lives in this county, and is able to post a substantial bond.”
She said that Prater is not a flight risk and is “entitled to a presumption of innocence.”
She asked for a lower bond or home incarceration.
“Like I say, it’s not an everyday charge that we have, and he denied that he pointed the gun at a student, but the student disagrees and the grand jury didn’t believe that as well,” Turner said. “At best, I think he was somebody who apparently was not a student who was coming to school to deal drugs while armed with a deadly weapon, which is not a great thing, if that’s what he was doing. And worse, he could have had some ideas toward harming somebody.”
He asked Harris to leave the bond as it is, mentioning problems with school shootings across the country, while Lewis emphasized that Prater is entitled to a presumption of innocence. She said his family could post a substantial property bond and would ensure he follows any bond conditions imposed.
Harris said he’d take the matter under submission. No ruling was filed in Floyd Circuit Court prior to print deadline on Thursday.
A pretrial conference is scheduled to be held in the case on Jan. 3.