At the end of a hearing Wednesday in which he pleaded guilty for his role in a planned massacre at Riverbend High School, a judge let Gavin Oztuna hug his relatives one by one before being taken back into custody.
It’s possible that the 16-year-old Spotsylvania boy will be back with his family in as little as six months.
Oztuna received an “indeterminate sentence” in a juvenile facility after pleading guilty in Spotsylvania Circuit Court to conspiracy to commit first-degree murder.
The sentence means that technically Oztuna could be in the juvenile facility until his 21st birthday.
But prosecutor Duncan Minton and defense attorney Jonathan David said that the expected time of incarceration for Oztuna is between six and nine months, as long as he complies with the rules in the juvenile facility.
“There’s no reason to think it will be more than nine months and it wouldn’t surprise me if it’s six,” David said.
Oztuna and 17-year-old Tristen Smith were arrested in October after the Spotsylvania Sheriff’s Office learned of a plot to shoot students and staff members at Riverbend High School. Both teens were students at the school.
The plot involved calling in a bomb threat and then shooting people as they left the building. Smith has been identified as the would-be shooter.
Smith has also pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit first-degree murder. He will be facing a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison when he is sentenced May 31.
According to the evidence, Smith and Oztuna exchanged text messages about Smith’s desire to become the “next school shooter.”
In the writings, Smith expressed frustrations about how he’d been treated by people at the school and warned that he was going to “make everyone feel the pain they caused me.”
He warned at least two girls that something was in the works and told them to be prepared to skip school when he told them to.
Police say they got information about the plan well before it could have been carried out and arrested the two teens.
Minton said that Oztuna’s involvement took place over a relatively short period one night. He said that at first Oztuna was not encouraging Smith, but later came up with the bomb threat idea.
After receiving an apology from Oztuna Tuesday, Judge Joseph J. Ellis told the teen that what he did was “horrible and scared the heck out of a lot of people.”
But Ellis told Oztuna that he has a chance to turn his life around if he can stay out of further trouble.