Father of School Gun Suspect Pleads Not Guilty

Zachariah Dow is accused of being a felon in possession of a firearm -- among other charges-- after police say his son took one of his guns to school

The man arrested after police say his 14-year-old son brought a loaded gun to school has pleaded not guilty to charges stemming from the incident.

Zachariah Joseph Dow-- a 36-year-old former sheriff's deputy -- turned himself into the Chula Vista Police headquarters and was arrested May 21, the same day his son brought a .44 caliber revolver to Hilltop High School, according to police.

The unidentified teen was also taken into custody and booked into juvenile hall.

When police served a search warrant to Dow’s home, they found another .22 caliber, semi-automatic pistol unsecured under a bed, investigators say. They believe that’s where his son got the revolver.

Dow faces charges of criminal storage of a firearm, a convicted felon in possession of a firearm, a felon in possession of ammunition and willful cruelty to a child without injury or death. He faces eight years in prison if convicted.

But Dow denied all the allegations, Dow’s attorney David Gutierrez told NBC 7.

"He's nervous. He's upset and embarrassed. He's ashamed. He understands the severity of this. He's using the support of his family to get him through this," said Gutierrez.

During Thursday's arraignment, the deputy district attorney requested that Dow be held on a higher bail, but the judge denied the request partly because Dow turned himself in and has cooperated so far. 

She also decided that his children can live with him or stay with him as long as there are no guns or illegal activity at his home. According to Gutierrez, Dow lives with his son, his fiancée and her two children -- one of whom is an adult. 

Dow is free on a $100,000 bail. Gutierrez said Dow can be searched anytime while he's out. 

He is set to be back in court on July 10 for a status hearing, and his preliminary hearing is scheduled for July 31. Moving forward, his attorneys will look at the possibility that the guns did not below to Dow, according to Gutierrez. 

Charges against Dow’s son have not been released because he is a minor.

Police have not released a potential motive for why the boy allegedly brought the gun to school, but his friends told NBC 7 that he is a quiet, introverted teen who was an “easy target” for bullying.

His uncle said the suspected act was a cry for help because the teen has been dealing with a lot since his mother died in 2008.

His relatives defended Dow when the incident was first reported, calling him a good father and a good man.

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