WORTHINGTON — A Worthington teenager accused of threatening another student and to carry out a school shooting last spring entered a guilty plea Monday in juvenile court.
Although admitting his guilt to threatening a student, Sylias A. Kamm, 16, maintained his denial that he’d shoot a gun at anyone or the Worthington High School in general. In statements made to the court, Kamm admitted to threatening to beat up another student who he said provoked him by making fun of a family member and repeatedly called him names.
Kamm admitted that he told other students during last spring’s incident that he had access to guns, including an AK-47. That wasn’t true, Kamm said Monday. He claimed the students who reported his shooting threats twisted his words about having access to guns.
The state prosecutor wasn’t impressed.
“Had I known about his factual basis, I definitely would not have accepted the plea agreement,” said Nobles County Assistant Attorney Braden Hoefert of Kamm’s continuous denial, which Hoefert said contradicted several witness accounts.
Witnesses were on hand Monday, as the appearance was initially scheduled as a court trial. Kamm signed the plea petition Monday afternoon prior to his scheduled court appearance, so the court trial was waived and no testimony was heard.
The state’s intent in accepting the plea petition, Hoefert said, was for Kamm to own up to his mistakes and receive treatment for whatever is causing him to make such threatening statements.
The alleged statements at Worthington weren’t the first in which Kamm has been accused of making terroristic threats.
In May, Hoefert filed a motion to include into evidence a previous offense related to a school shooting threat Kamm allegedly made in February 2018 on Snapchat while he was a student in the Adrian School District. Kamm allegedly said the threat was a joke. Although not initially prosecuted, Hoefert argued the evidence had relevance to the Worthington case, as it showed Kamm had knowledge of the nature of school shooting threats and how others react.
Fifth Judicial District Judge Gordon Moore acknowledged Hoefert’s displeasure regarding Kamm’s statements, but agreed Kamm had satisfied the requirements to plead guilty to felony terroristic threats.
However, Moore had some words for Kamm regarding the seriousness of school shooting threats, especially considering their prevalence in the country.
“Kids say stuff they don’t mean, and I get that,” Moore said. “Unfortunately, we’ve had enough kids in this country say things they meant, and weren’t taken seriously."
Moore added that casual mention of an AK-47 poses fear and concern.
“It doesn’t take a lot to have people’s imaginations connect the dots,” he said. “We’re trying to educate our kids in a safe environment. If you’re minimizing your involvement in this, the concern is how that will impact you in the future.”
As a result of the plea agreement, Kamm won’t be adjudicated guilty. He’ll serve an initial period of six months on supervised probation, during which time he is required to complete 40 hours of community service and a diagnostics assessment and abide by those recommendations. He was also ordered to write an apology letter to the victim, to be approved by probation.
The school's policy is not to release private student enrollment information, but Kamm shared Monday in court that he plans to continue his sophomore year of school at Independent School District 518’s Worthington Learning Center.