Gun found at New Milford HS ‘obtained on the streets,’ parents not facing charges, police say

Photo of Sandra Diamond Fox

NEW MILFORD — The so-called “ghost” gun found this week in a student’s car after a fight at New Milford High School was obtained on the streets without the parents’ knowledge, police said Thursday.

The loaded 9mm pistol with no serial number, was found Tuesday by police during a search of the 17-year-old’s vehicle. The discovery came after a fight between two older teens in the school’s bathroom.

New Milford Police Lt. Lee Grabner said the parents of the gun owner will not be charged. The teen told police he “got it from a friend,” Grabner said.

“This was a gun that was obtained on the streets without the parents’ knowledge,” he said Thursday. “So the parents have no criminal liability when they don’t have any knowledge of what their child is doing.”

The teen, who was charged with criminal possession of a firearm and possession of a ghost gun, was referred to juvenile court in Waterbury on Tuesday.

“The first day for the juvenile would be an assignment for the probation officer just to kind of oversee him until it goes further on in the court process. So it’s still very, very early in that phase,” Grabner said.

He said “ghost” guns are privately made firearms, often built at home with kits, that have grown in popularity nationwide in recent years. Unlike traditional firearms from established manufacturers, ghost guns usually don’t come with serial numbers, making them difficult to trace.

“You couldn’t buy this gun at a gun store. You could buy the components of it, or somebody else could buy the components of it and then buy it on the street,” Grabner said. “But (the gun) wasn’t registered in terms of a serial number — things like that. So it wasn’t a legal firearm to own under the state laws.”

The investigation into how it ended up in the teen’s possession is ongoing.

In Connecticut, anyone who manufactures a gun after 2019 is required to obtain a unique serial number from the Department of Emergency Services and Public Protection. Those who build the firearms are required to follow state regulations. Only a small handful have been registered since 2019.

Stricter measures on the weapons were announced earlier this month by President Joe Biden. The rules would ban the most accessible “buy build shoot” kits and the kits would be treated as firearms and would be required to be licensed and include serial numbers.

Grabner confirmed the gun and bathroom fight incidents are related.

“It’s all the same individuals. So after the fight occurred, the information about the gun came up, and so the investigation branched out to that. So it’s kind of all related, in terms of the individuals,” he said.

The 18- and 19-year-olds who were involved in the incident have had their cases referred to the Litchfield Judicial District Courthouse at Torrington. Hearst Connecticut Media has filed a request for the incident report with police.

Police interviewed witnesses on the day of the incident, Grabner said.

“We really did everything that day because when the kids were in school, at that time, that’s the best time for us to do it. We talked to a number of witnesses that day and people who had information that day as well,” he said.

There was extra police presence at the high school on Wednesday, in addition to greater support for students.

Grabner said the school worked as a team with police in regard to the investigation.

“We were handling the investigation along with the schools and they were a fantastic help to us. It was a great collaborative effort,” he said. “And we resolved it quickly, which was phenomenal, just keeping students safe and working together to get that gun secured and get these students that were fighting inside the school handled appropriately.”