By MARYCLAIRE DALE, Associated Press Writer
NORRISTOWN, Pa. - The mother of a 14-year-old who authorities say had a cache of guns, knives and explosive devices in his bedroom for a possible school attack was charged Friday with buying her son three weapons.
Michele Cossey bought her home-schooled son a .22-caliber handgun, a .22-caliber rifle and a 9 mm semiautomatic rifle, authorities said. The teenager felt bullied and tried to recruit another boy for a possible attack at Plymouth Whitemarsh High School, authorities said.
"This is not the best parenting I've ever seen and she needs to be held accountable," Montgomery County District Attorney Bruce L. Castor Jr. said.
Acting on a tip from a high school student and his father, police on Wednesday found the rifle, about 30 air-powered guns, swords, knives, a bomb-making book, videos of the 1999 Columbine attack in Colorado and violence-filled notebooks in the boy's bedroom, Castor said.
Cossey, 46, of Plymouth Meeting, bought the rifle, which had a laser scope, at a gun show on Sept. 23 and provided police with a receipt, investigators said in court papers. The teenager said the two .22-caliber weapons were stored at a friend's house.
The boy's father also tried to buy his son a rifle in 2005, but was not allowed to because he was a felon, police said.
The teen had a brief court appearance Friday at which the county public defender's office and prosecutors agreed to continue holding him while they do psychiatric evaluations.
The boy was led out of the courtroom in shackles and he didn't comment.
His mother was charged with unlawful transfer of a firearm, possession of a firearm by a minor, corruption of a minor, endangering the welfare of a child and two counts of reckless endangerment. She was not accused of helping the teen plot an attack, "but by virtue of her indulgence, she enabled him to get in this position," Castor said.
Castor has said he does not believe and attack was imminent or would occur at all. He said Friday that the teen had a "disturbed mind."
"This was a smart kid that clearly believes he was picked on and was a victim," Castor said. "He had psychological issues and began to act out on those feelings."
The teen's father, Frank Cossey, was sentenced to house arrest for lying about his criminal record when he went to buy a .22-caliber rifle for his son in December 2005, police said Friday. On his application he said he had never been convicted of a felony, but he had pleaded guilty in 1981 to manslaughter in a drunken driving death in Oklahoma and sent to prison, police said.
Police, who searched home with the permission of the teen's parents, also discovered seven explosive devices Castor has described as homemade grenades: plastic containers filled with pellets to which gunpowder could be added. Authorities said one grenade was operable and the others had been in the process of being assembled.
The search did not turn up any ammunition for the most dangerous firearm in the bunch, the assault rifle.
The teen previously attended middle school in the district but had been taught at home for more than a year after voluntarily leaving school, Castor said.
The arrest came the same day a 14-year-old in Ohio opened fire at his Cleveland high school, wounding four before killing himself.
I grew up in a household with guns. When I was 14, I had my own rifle, a .270 Winchester bolt-action rifle for deer hunting. I couldn't use it without supervision, nor did I ever consider it. I was also quite involved in firearms training, not only with NRA-sponsored firearms safety courses, but with my father who would take me out into the woods to learn to shoot. Something that will teach you respect about a weapon is firing it at something and seeing the destruction that it causes.
Incidentally, I also had a 20-ga. shotgun for duck hunting. I learned to shoot pistols with a .44 magnum revolver (holy shit), and I've shot a number of firearms in a responsible manner. If a student brought a shotgun or a rifle to school during hunting season and kept it in his locker, it was pretty normal.
I know my way around a firearm. I am not a sharpshooter or a weapons afficianado, I don't have a cache of firearms in my house, I'm not a "gun nut" by any means, but I am firmly in belief that firearms are something useful and good, with proper supervision and training.
So this mother bought her son three guns: a .22 pistol, a .22 rifle, and a 9mm rifle. None of these is really outrageous if her son was given firearms safety training (I suspect that he wasn't, but that's a different issue). The charges against her are IMHO outrageous (how can she be charged with posession of a firearm by a minor?), and really the wrong difrection entirely to be taking in this case.
The 14-year-old who is making "grenades" in his basement is pretty key here. Mom and Dad being oblivious to the emotional problems of the son is pretty key here. I will agree that there is a real lack of parenting skills, though I'm betting it's not all that surprising considering the description of the father's run-in with the law.
Stupid people shouldn't breed.
Why do we not have parenting licenses? Why do we not require a basic competency exam for parents-to-be before we allow them to take a child home from the hospital? Why can we not say "You should not have children" to people who are irresponsible and stupid?
I chose not to have children because I have some concept of the amount of responsibility that it takes to not fuck up somebody else's life, and I don't think I'm capable of that. I'm barely capable of being responsible for my own life, thankyouverymuch. I don't feel the need to propogate my DNA, I don't feel the need to spring a legacy from my loins, I do not have a biological imperative to breed.