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Hostage-taking Teen-ager Ordered to Get Psychiatric Help

January 24, 1992

RAPID CITY, S.D. (AP) _ A teen-ager who held 21 high school students hostage at gunpoint was sentenced Thursday to 40 years in prison, but a judge suspended the sentence on the condition that he get psychiatric help.

Ryan Harris, 17, was acting out a scene from ″Rage,″ a story by horror writer Stephen King, when he took his classmates hostage last September, authorities said.

Seventh Circuit Judge Jeff Davis called it a ″simple, selfish act″ - simple because Harris was acting out the scene, and selfish because he put others at risk.

Harris pulled out a sawed-off shotgun during an algebra class at Rapid City Stevens High School. He fired 10 shots in the classroom, but no one was hurt.

Three hours later, a student grabbed the gun while Harris was lighting cigarettes for classmates.

Harris originally was charged in juvenile court. His case was transferred to adult court and earlier this month he pleaded guilty to one count of kidnapping, three counts of aggravated assault and one count of damage to public property.

Davis sentenced Harris to 40 years for kidnapping and 10 years for shooting up the classroom and gave him three separate 15-year sentences for threatening a student, a police officer and a teacher with the gun. All five sentences are to run concurrently.

Davis then suspended the sentences on the condition that Harris complete treatment at a Sioux Falls hospital and a Colorado center for adolescents.

When the treatment is complete, Harris will appear before the judge again. Davis may sentence him to a youth forestry camp, the state Human Services Center or a juvenile detention center or set him free on probation.

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