By TODD RICHMOND
MADISON, Wis. (AP) — A federal judge sentenced an Oshkosh man to a month behind bars for buying a rifle for a boy who boasted online that the weapon was a “new school shooter gun.”
U.S. District Judge William C. Griesbach sentenced 19-year-old Hunter Nicholson on Wednesday in Green Bay to 30 days confinement and three years of supervised release. Nicholson pleaded guilty in December in a deal with prosecutors to one count of lying to a federal firearms dealer. He could have faced up to 10 years in prison.
According to a statement from prosecutors and court documents, Nicholson purchased an AM-15 assault-style rifle from Jon’s Sport Shop in Oshkosh on June 15 at the direction of a 16-year-old Oshkosh North High School student.
Nicholson used $550 the student gave him to buy the gun. Nicholson falsely answered “yes” on a federal form asking him if he was the weapon’s actual buyer. The form warned him that he couldn’t act as a straw buyer.
The Oshkosh Area School District’s police resource officer noticed two days later that the student had posted a video of someone shooting an assault-style rifle with the comment “revealing new school shooter gun.”
Deputies went to the student’s home and seized the AM-15 from him. The boy said he posted the video as a joke, adding that Nicholson bought the gun for him because his mother doesn’t know quality firearms and his father is anti-gun, according to court documents.
Nicholson told federal agents in July that the boy had asked him to buy the gun for him because he was too young to purchase it himself.
He gave the boy the gun the day after he bought it. He said the boy has mental issues and likes to shoot up teddy bears.
Nicholson’s attorney, listed in online court records as Krista Halla-Valdes, didn’t immediately reply to a message seeking comment.
She wrote in a sentencing memorandum to the court that Nicholson didn’t put a lot of thought into why he bought the gun for the student.
He has known the student and his family for years — their fathers served together as volunteer firefighters — and he never thought the student would do anything stupid or violent with the rifle, Halla-Valdes wrote.
“The post … put a lot of people in a state of panic and unease. But keep in mind, this is not a case that actually involved a school shooting.
This is not a case where someone brought a gun to school. And this is not a case where anyone was hurt,” Halla-Valdes wrote. “Hunter is the one suffering consequences in the form of a felony conviction that he will live with for the rest of his life, while (the student), a minor, is not.”
Kenneth Gales, a spokesman for U.S. Attorney Matthew Krueger, referred questions about whether the student faces charges to the Winnebago County district attorney’s office, which didn’t immediately reply to a message seeking comment.
In a separate case, a school resource officer shot and wounded 16-year-old Oshkosh West High School student Grant Fuhrman in December after Fuhrman stabbed him in his office with a barbecue fork. He has been charged as an adult with attempted first-degree intentional homicide.