Dowagiac teen jailed for bringing weapons to schoolPublished 11:49am Friday, January 25, 2013
CASSOPOLIS — A 17-year-old Dowagiac boy will serve jail time after police found two guns and a Ka-Bar knife in his vehicle in the parking lot of Dowagiac Union High School in September.
Phillip Kocsis was sentenced to 60 days in jail and three years probation Friday by Cass County Circuit Court Judge Michael Dodge.
Kocsis told the court he mistakenly left the weapons — an M1 carbine, 12-gauge shotgun and Ka-Bar knife — in his truck and then drove it to school after skeet shooting earlier, possibly the day before.
“That’s a pretty significant lapse of judgment,” said Dodge, who also allowed Kocsis to benefit from the Holmes Youthful Training Act, which would allow the felony to stay off his criminal record.
Kocsis pleaded guilty Dec. 3 to two charges: felony carrying of a concealed weapon and misdemeanor disturbing the peace. Prosecutor Victor Fitz originally charged him with five felonies and three misdemeanors — including carrying a dangerous weapon with unlawful intent, a five-year felony — but those charges were dropped as part of a plea deal.
Kocsis’ sentencing guidelines were 0 to three months, but Fitz recommended Kocsis serve some jail time for what he described as a very serious act that can never be tolerated.
“It would send a message to others who might think of doing this in the future,” Fitz said.
Defense attorney Tat Parish described his client as a competitive trap shooter with no criminal record. He said Kocsis has already been “very punished” by being expelled from school.
According to court records, the incident began with an argument between Kocsis and at least one other student on Sept. 19 in the school parking lot. During arraignment in September, Fitz said Kocsis threatened to shoot anyone who touched him or his truck after a classmate told Kocsis he needed to get a parking pass for his vehicle.
A student told the school resource officer about the weapons in Kocsis’ truck and Kocsis was arrested.
Parish said the guns were found in their cases and not in violation of conceal carry statutes. However, having the Ka-Bar knife in the vehicle did violate conceal carry laws.
It is against Dowagiac school policy to have any weapons on school grounds.