A Belgrade man pleaded not guilty Tuesday to stashing a gun used in a video threatening Belgrade High School students and lying to law enforcement about it.
David Oster, 18, is charged with felony tampering with evidence. Oster is one of five people connected to the threatening video.
Gallatin County District Judge Holly Brown released Oster without bail. If convicted, Oster could face up to 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $50,000.
Edward Guza, Oster’s attorney, said Oster was accepted to the Berklee College of Music in Spain and has a student visa interview in August in San Francisco. Guza asked Brown to allow Oster to go to the interview with his mother.
“It will be only for that reason, and then they will turn around and come right back home,” Guza said.
Judge Brown said she’d allow Oster to go the interview but offered a warning before reading his conditions of release.
“If you mess around with this and I see you back here on a violation, you’re going right back next door,” she said, referring to the Gallatin County jail.
The Belgrade Police Department has said in a news release the day of the incident that the other four students were charged with felony intimidation. Paul Lamb, Belgrade High School principal, said the four students’ charges are pending.
The four are expected to be referred to Gallatin County youth probation officers. Probation officers could decide to give the students probation or tell the county attorney’s office to pursue criminal charges. If the county attorney’s office moves the cases forward, the students would appear before a Youth Court judge.
Lamb also said the school board would meet individually with the four other students in July to decide a separate punishment.
Earlier this month, Belgrade School District officials placed the high school and surrounding schools on alert because of the video. The video showed three girls and a boy kicking, punching and yelling racial slurs at the camera. In the video, they said they were going to beat up a list of students and a boy cocked and pulled a gun’s trigger several times.
Belgrade police officers and Gallatin County sheriff’s deputies rounded up the people involved in making the video for questioning.
Students who made the video said Oster lived at the house it was filmed in and that they used his gun to make the video, but that he wasn’t there when they recorded it, according to charging documents. Oster got home after the video was made, and the students said they returned to school without the gun.
Deputies went to the home to find the gun and met with Oster. He initially lied about where the gun was, police said in charging documents, but eventually admitted hiding the gun in a portable toilet at a nearby construction site.
The deputies found the gun there and Oster was taken to the Belgrade Police Department. He admitted seeing the video before hiding the gun, police said, but denied disposing the evidence. He said was getting rid of it because he was unable to safely secure it.