NEWPORT NEWS, Va. (WAVY) – A Newport News judge sentenced a teenager to 10 years active prison time Friday for a shooting at Heritage High School last fall.
16-year-old Jacari Taylor pleaded guilty in April to six felonies: malicious wounding, felony use of a firearm, possessing a firearm on school property and discharging a firearm on school property.
Taylor was involved in a a fight at lunchtime on September 20, during which Taylor pulled out a gun and fired several shots in a busy hallway at the high school.
Deputy Commonwealth’s Attorney Travis White said the shooting “destroyed the sense of sanctuary we should have in our schools, where kids should feel safe. Every parent was hoping it wasn’t their kid who got shot”.
A 17-year-old boy and girl were wounded by the gunfire. They both survived, but the boy’s father said his son has permanent injuries, including hearing loss. White says the girl has signs of despair and gets flashbacks when she hears loud noises.
At the time of the Heritage High School incident, Taylor was wearing an ankle monitor bracelet after a juvenile conviction on gun and malicious wounding charges for shooting someone. Attorney Emily Hunt, one of Taylor’s public defenders, said that earlier shooting – when Taylor was just 14 – was connected to the Heritage High incident through Taylor’s brother, but did not give further details.
Hunt tried to draw a line between what happened in the Heritage hallway and what we commonly call “school shootings”, saying Taylor didn’t go to class that day intending to shoot up the school. “This wasn’t Columbine,” she said.
Judge Christopher Papile sentenced Taylor to 10 years active time. During the sentencing, Papile said he could not ignore that this was not his first crime. Taylor will serve a blended sentence, meaning some of the time will be served in the juvenile justice system. Once he turns 21 in 2027, he will enter the adult system.
Taylor told Newport News detectives shortly after the shooting that he had the gun for protection and didn’t know how to fight. Taylor has a slight build – Hunt said he’s about 5’9″ tall and weighs 115 pounds.