PORTLAND, Ore. - Officials in Troutdale, Oregon, have paid $3,950 to purchase a rifle and ammunition seized after a fatal 2014 high school shooting rather than return the weapon to the teenage gunman's older brother, the community's mayor said on Wednesday.
City officials proposed buying the AR-15 assault-style rifle after a state judge ruled in favor of Lucas Padgett, 25, who sued to reclaim the gun his younger sibling used to kill a Reynolds High School classmate and wound a teacher before committing suicide with the weapon.
The deal was negotiated between lawyers for the town, a middle-class suburb of Portland, and Padgett, a US Army reservist, who accepted the offer, according to Mayor Doug Daoust.
"The police were not ready to release the evidence, and from the input I got from citizens in Troutdale, many people were not comfortable with the gun returning to the community," Daoust told Reuters.
"You could make an issue out of the fact that we're spending public money to buy the gun, but the entire seven-person City Council thought it was a low cost to pay to reduce the amount of raw emotion and trauma we're still facing in this community," he added.
After the June 10, 2014 shooting, police determined that the weapon used by 15-year-old freshman high school student Jared Padgett had been stolen from his older brother.
Investigators also determined that a handgun the shooter carried to school but did not fire was taken from the brothers' father.
The handgun has not been subject to any litigation and is still in police custody, Daoust said.
The Multnomah County District Attorney declined last fall to press charges against either gunman's brother or father. But police in Troutdale said in court documents as recently as last month that their investigation of the shooting remained open.