The 17-year-old charged with shooting two other juveniles, one in the face and the other in the chest, earlier this year in what he called self-defense will be tried as an adult, a Missoula County judge ruled this week.
In his order, District Court Judge John Larson said Dylan Conat, who was charged with assault with a weapon for the shooting outside Sentinel High School, had exhibited dangerous behavior in recent years; specifically the frequency in which he encountered law enforcement while in the possession of firearms.
"His behaviors put the community at risk," Larson wrote. "The services available through youth court will not serve the best interest of rehabilitation of Mr. Conat."
At an October hearing to determine if Conat should be tried as an adult or juvenile, the 17-year-old took the stand to describe the June shooting in his own words. He said he followed two other juveniles to Sentinel High School from the mall, where he had offered to sell them marijuana. They said a friend at the school wanted to buy some, but when they got there, they jumped him, he said.
Once they arrived at the school, one of the boys said "Now," right before the second punched him in the head and knocked him down, he said. The first teen then began kicking his head, Conat said.
"There were two against one, so I didn't think they would necessarily stop when I told them to stop," Conat said during the October hearing.
He said he pulled the gun from his pocket and pointed it at one of the boys, who tried wrestling it away from him. Two shots rang out, but the first teen grabbed the gun and aimed it back at Conat, he told the judge in October. Conat said he pushed the backpack containing the weed toward the teens and ran. Both youths survived the shooting.
Before the shooting, Conat was apprehended in Washington state, where he was found in possession of two other guns. After the incident outside Sentinel, he was "on the run" after Missoula law enforcement identified him as a suspect in the shooting of two juveniles at the school. Conat had two new guns when he was arrested on Aug. 8, according to court documents. He told the court in October he had fled in order to solidify his self-defense claim.
Larson's order, filed Monday, set Conat's trial for 9 a.m. on Jan. 4, 2019, in Missoula County District Court.