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AR-15 rifle found at Bostrom High was loaded, had device to make gun fully automatic, court records show

A 15-year-old boy is facing four felony charges for bringing a gun to campus.

PHOENIX — One week after a 15-year-old boy brought an AR-15 rifle to the campus of Bostrom High School in west Phoenix, court records obtained by 12News show the gun had a device that could have turned the semi-automatic weapon into a full-capacity gun.

So far, Phoenix police have not released details of how the teen was able to obtain the gun, bring it onto campus, or what he planned to do with it.

According to court documents, the teen boy admitted to possessing the gun but denied owning it. Saying he was “holding it for someone else.”

Documents also show during a search of the teen, Phoenix officers found “the upper part of an AR-15 inside the teen’s sweatpants with the barrel pointed at officers.” Records show “a live cartridge was in the chamber.”

Documents also show the gun’s lower receiver was found in a backpack with a “fully loaded cartridge” and more “ammo.”

Also in the backpack was a lightning link, a device police said could turn a semi-automatic weapon into a fully-capacity gun.

According to records, “When combining the upper and lower receiver and lightning link together, they create a prohibited weapon.”

“Say I have an SD card, and I split it in half. That’s the size of a lightning link,” said David Laid, owner of Dynamic Combative Solutions.

Laird, a weapons expert, describes a lightning link like a bump stock, a device that allows shots to be fired in rapid succession.

He said before 1986, lightning links came with serial numbers, like a machine gun.        

Now he said anyone can make them with just a few clicks on the computer.

"Any and all firearms can be made fully automatic with ingenuity and knowledge," said Laird.

Documents show the teen told police, “he didn’t know the gun could act as a machine gun when the lightning link was inserted.”

Phoenix officers took the pieces of the gun, reassembled it, and found it to be fully functional.

Laird said the teen broke several laws in addition to being a minor in possession of a firearm.

“If it’s a serialized part (lightning link), he will be in really big trouble. If it’s not serialized, he’s going to be in greater trouble because now he’s going to be facing charges of manufacturing a fully automatic device,” said Laird.  

Through a search warrant, investigators also uncovered an Instagram conversation between the teen and another person about buying a gun.

According to records, the teen denied the conversation, saying instead, the conversation was about buying and selling gloves.

The 15-year-old remains in custody on four felony charges. According to court records, an order filed with Maricopa County Superior Courts said the boy must remain detained and will likely harm himself or others.

The order also said his “caretaker(s) are unable to control, supervise or parent the juvenile in a home environment, despite the caretaker’s best effort to do so,” and that “the juvenile requires stabilization and structure in an out-of-home placement setting.”

The teen is expected to make another court appearance on June 12.

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