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Utahn threatened mass school shooting using 3D-printed gun, police say

Austin James David West
Austin James David West
Salt Lake County Sheriff's Office

SOUTH SALT LAKE — A South Jordan man faces a criminal charge after police say he threatened to commit a mass shooting at a small South Salt Lake school using a gun made from a 3D printer.

Austin James David West, 23, was charged Aug. 9 in South Salt Lake Justice Court with making a threat of violence, a class B misdemeanor.

On Aug. 8, West was arrested at his home after he talked with another student "about using a gun to shoot students at Broadview University," according to a Salt Lake County Jail report.

"The statements were forwarded to the university, which caused the university dean to be fearful that a school shooting was actually going to take place. An email had to be sent to faculty and students warning them of the threat of a shooting at the school. The school chose to remain open," the report states.

Broadview Entertainment Arts University is located at 240 E. Morris Avenue (2430 South).

West sent several texts to another student he has known for several years, stating that he would commit a shooting that "people would be talking about," according to a search warrant affidavit unsealed Tuesday in 3rd District Court.

"The text messages sent by the suspect reference killing people with a 3D printed gun so the gun could not be traced back to him. The message contained images of what appears to be a male in a video holding a rifle while standing over another male that is lying on the ground," the warrant states.

The messages were allegedly sent on Aug. 7 between 7 p.m. and 11 p.m. The other student forwarded the messages to a school professor at 11:20 p.m.

Police interviewed the student who received the messages.

"(He) believed Austin has a fascination with firearms and violence. (He) described Austin as being quite interested in serial killers, school shooters and other mass casualty type events. He described Austin as liking up close and personal violence such as wounds caused by a knife," according to the affidavit.

"(He) believed Austin could be capable of committing a mass casualty type event such as a school shooting."

The student also told police that West had been "verbally aggressive" in the past and that he was fearful of his demeanor, the warrant says.

Police served a warrant at West's South Jordan home on Aug. 8 where he lives with his parents and seized a 3D printer, according to the affidavit. His next court appearance is scheduled for Sept. 26.

West's attorney told the Deseret News Tuesday that he had just received the case and wasn't able to comment on it yet.

On Monday, a federal judge in Seattle approved a motion to block a Texas man from releasing blueprints that could be downloaded online for 3D-printed guns.