Omaha, Ark., students learn responsibilities of handling a gun

HARRISON, Ark. - Two Omaha students were found "guilty" by a jury of their own classmates.​

But how did students Maggie Griffith and Remington Edwards end up here?

They came to BA Hard Target Shooting Academy in Harrison with their class.

"We're trying to reintroduce the youth into the criminal justice system in a good, positive way," said Troy Burleson, the chief instructor at Hard Target.

After some gun safety lessons:

"We allowed a couple of the students to be active police officers," Burleson said. "And we put them in an active shooter situation in a school. And I know that's very difficult. They've not had training to be able to do that. And there's a lot to take in."

Not only do the kids learn when to shoot, they also learn when not to.

The first time the students went through the training a man turns around holding a gun.

But the second time, it's a cell phone.

"What's funny is the first time he had a gun I was trying to be careful," Edwards said. "But the second time I just expected him to have a gun that time because it's not going to change. Well that's not how it worked out."

And both kids shot an unarmed man.

Then they had to go through the criminal justice system, complete with a prosecuting attorney, a judge, a defense attorney, and a jury had to decide whether they were guilty or not guilty.

"You have kids that are normally quiet in class, and they actually came out and said, 'This is what I think, and this is why I'm looking at it like that,'" said instructor Glenn Redding, who played the part of the prosecutor.

"I felt betrayed by my friends but they made some really good points," said Griffith.

"We saw it from our perspective," Edwards said. "They saw the body cam footage, so I don't blame them for making an unemotional choice."

That's why at Hard Target instructors go through many different scenarios with police officers.

"That stress in the incident, to do the right thing is hard some times," Burleson said. "That's why we train a lot here. And we train them for those occasions when they have to make those split-second decisions."

"I just have so much more respect for them," Griffith said. "I mean how do you handle that." ​

The shooting instructors at Hard Target said they've done this scenario about five times, and out of those five times, this is the first time a jury has unanimously found the students guilty.

Read the original version of this article at www.ky3.com.