NOBLESVILLE — A judge has ordered that the student accused of opening fire in a Noblesville Middle School five years ago not be released from juvenile detention.
The boy was just 13 years old when he walked into Noblesville West Middle School armed with two handguns and more than 100 rounds of ammunition.
He wounded teacher Jason Seaman and classmate Ella Whistler in the May 2018 attack that left indelible scars on the suburban community.
That boy is now 18, which means he is close to being released from juvenile detention.
On Thursday, Hamilton Circuit Judge Paul Felix ordered the boy to remain in the Hamilton County Juvenile Detention Center after finding he had assaulted a female counselor at a state facility.
"You’ve shown me that you still have the ability to do extremely improper things that cause me concern about you," Felix told the boy during the hearing.
Felix had been poised to release the teen to the custody of his parents, who were in the courtroom Wednesday. He issued an order placing the boy on probation, home detention and GPS monitoring.
But on March 20, prosecutors say the teen assaulted a female counselor at the Pendleton Juvenile Correctional Facility by fist-bumping her breast, then joking about it with other juveniles.
The judge ordered the teen to undergo a psychological evaluation. After that, he will set a new hearing to reconsider whether the teen should be released from detention.
"You are still being treated in the juvenile world," Felix told the teen. "I will continue to interact with this case... The ultimate goal is securing your rehabilitation and the public's safety."
Hamilton County Chief Deputy Prosecutor Barbara Trathen said it's clear the teen still poses a danger to the public.
"We are very grateful and appreciate the judge's decision," Trathen said after the hearing Wednesday. "(Judge Felix) evaluated closely the evidence and he agreed with our assessment that there is an ongoing safety risk presented by (the teen)."
The teen was ushered into court by officers wearing an orange-and-white striped jail uniform. He had a shaggy head of brown hair and a bushy full beard and mustache. The teen bears little resemblance to the baby-faced 13-year-old who terrorized his middle school on May 25, 2018.
One Noblesville parent told WRTV he has been fighting to change laws ever since the school shooting.
"The juvenile system places a lot of weight on the idea that we should rehabilitate young people who do things that are wrong, but that needs to be balanced against the need to protect society from people who are dangerous," Steve Rogers told WRTV.
Rogers' son Benjamin was a student at the middle school when the shooting happened. Benjamin is 19 now and a freshman in college.
"He was an eighth grader in gym class and they made an announcement," Rogers said. "The kids all looked at the teacher, and the teacher said 'Get out.'"
Benjamin and his gym class moved quickly to a nearby farm field before they were taken to the high school. Rogers recalls the anxious hours waiting to be reunited with his son that day.
"I had the longest three-hour wait I've ever had in my life to get my son back," Rogers said.
Soon after the shooting, Rogers and other parents formed Noblesville Stands Together and started pushing to reform laws in Indiana.
"The reason that we became active was because we are failing as a society at keeping our kids safe," Rogers said. "And rather than spending a lot of time worrying about an individual juvenile, why don't we spend more time looking at what's happening in not just schools, but churches, movie theaters, shopping malls, Walmart parking lots.
"There's nowhere you can go and not be at risk of a dangerous person with a gun."
The group saw some success in convincing lawmakers to stiffen penalties. One change: 13-year-olds charged with attempted murder can now face adult charges if a judge agrees to waive the child into adult court. That wasn't the case in 2018.
Noblesville Stands Together members no longer meet and the group hasn't posted on Facebook in almost a year, but Rogers said he is confident the parents can mobilize again if they are called upon.
Rogers said he doesn't think much about the boy, now a young man, who shot two people in the middle school five years ago.
But Rogers said he and other parents are frustrated that the state won't do more to keep guns out of the hands of people who shouldn't have them.
"We came together knowing that there is a debate in the country that is dominated by extremes on both sides," Rogers said. "It comes down to the easy availability of guns.... Right now, the debate is being by extremists who reject any idea that we can better regulate guns and keep them away from dangerous people."
Contact WRTV reporter Vic Ryckaert at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter: @vicryc.