(04/01/2008)
Gun charges against Wirt County Middle School principal JD Hoover have been dropped using a technical point of law.

Circuit Court Judge Robert Waters dismissed two counts of unlawfully and feloniously possessing deadly weapons on educational facilities, agreeing with attorney George Cosenza.

Cosenza told the court the basis for the dismissal was an exception in the state code that prohibit weapons on school grounds, but apparently allows people to have unloaded weapons in a locked vehicle.

Hoover reportedly brought the weapons on school grounds after he had obtained them following a shooting incident, most of the students were not in attendance because of an in-service day for teachers.

During an earlier hearing, witnesses testified the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources was investigating an accidental shooting on Oct. 8th in rural Wirt County, reports said a youth had been shot.

Authorities, following the incident, began searching for two .22-caliber rifles.

Apparently Hoover was not involved in the shooting, but allegedly removed weapons from the shooting scene at the request of a friend.

Hoover, at some point in time, apparently went to speak to investigators.

Testimony indicated Hoover had one of the rifles authorities were looking for and he had placed the other rifle in the woods at a "friend's insistence."

Hoover reportedly had recovered both weapons and had them in his vehicle, returning to work at Wirt County Middle School.

Hoover's friend apparently contacted him at the school, asking him to return one of the rifles to the scene, indicating DNR was looking for it in relationship to the shooting.

Court reports indicate Hoover could not get the gun back to the exact spot, but he replaced it nearby.

DNR officers said Hoover cooperated with them throughout the investigation.

Hoover has been suspended since last fall, and his attorney said work is starting to get him reinstated.

Attorney Cosenza and superintendent Metz said the state is planning to appeal the decision to the West Virginia Supreme Court.

"We feel strongly that the public expects there not to be guns on school property, loaded or unloaded," Metz said.


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