MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — A Vadnais Heights father is facing weapons charges after police say his son threatened another student at school.
Christopher Stowe, 41, is charged with two counts of illegal possession of a machine gun or short barreled shotgun and one count of negligent storage of a loaded firearm where a child can access it. The Vadnais Heights city attorney says his wife, Lisa Stowe, will be charged with gross misdemeanor storage of firearms. Their son, a 13-year-old boy who won’t be identified, is charged with making threats of violence.
The investigation began when a parent told the Ramsey County Sheriff’s office that another student threatened her 13-year-old son at the Academy for Sciences and Agriculture (AFSA) in Vadnais Heights. According to the criminal complaint, the boy told deputies that the student told him he was going to kill him, and that he had a list of students he was going to kill.
Deputies contacted the school, who were aware of the threats and had already suspended the student who made them. Investigators later learned when school administrators removed the boy from class, he said “Hide in the closet when I come back, because I will start shooting then.”
School officials at AFSA released a statement Sunday explaining their decision not to report the incident to police:
“We did not notify law enforcement on Wednesday because after our initial investigation and discussion with students and parents, AFSA did not believe the students’ discussion constituted a valid threat to anyone. One of the students shared additional information with their parent after school on Wednesday which lead the parent to make the report to law enforcement.”
When a deputy visited the boy’s home on DeSoto Street in Vadnais Heights, he told them he “didn’t mean it, and would never do it again.” The boy’s mother, Lisa Stowe, also told the deputy that the boy didn’t have access to guns and that there were no weapons in the home.
After obtaining a search warrant, law enforcement discovered “a significant number” of guns, ammo and two possible explosive devices while the 13-year-old boy was at home alone.
Police also found equipment hidden in the ceiling of the home that would convert semiautomatic weapons into fully automatic ones, along with literature on how to do so. Investigators called experts from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives who came to the home and determined that one of the weapons in the home could be legally classified as a machine gun and another as a short-barreled shotgun, which are illegal under Minnesota law.
In the criminal complaint, police said several of the guns were loaded and located out in the open, easily accessible to the young boy. The boy’s grandfather, Mark Stowe, recently told WCCO the guns were “absolutely” stored safely and properly.
“As the years go by, we pick up other guns, we exchange guns, we sell guns — we’re not a dealer,” he said. “That’s four generations of family heirlooms. Some of those guns go back to 1874. We don’t leave them in piles on the floor, trust me.”
Attorney Samuel Substance is representing Christopher Stowe.
“I don’t think there’s any reason for anyone to be scared of the Stowe family,” he said.
Substance says Stowe has no criminal record and questions the search of his home.
“These people were called at their jobs, told their door was going to be kicked in, they went home to cooperate and they’ve been in a jail cell ever since,” he said.
Stowe was released from the Ramsey County jail after a hearing Monday afternoon. The boy is due in court Monday afternoon as well. The Vadnais Heights city attorney says the city plans to officially charge Lisa Stowe soon.