A man wore a loaded handgun on his hip inside St. Francis of Assisi School in St. Albans last month, according to a criminal complaint filed in Kanawha County Magistrate Court.
David William Kanniainen, 76, of Nitro, is charged with possessing a deadly weapon on the premises of an educational facility, according to the complaint.
St. Albans Police Sgt. D.D. Griffith wrote in the complaint that the gun was a holstered Smith & Wesson .357 caliber revolver, loaded with six bullets.
Griffith wrote that, around 2:30 p.m. on Sept. 18, he went to the Catholic school in response to a report of a man with a gun. He wrote that he found Kanniainen inside “a small room located in the sanctuary on the west side of the building.”
“I asked him if he had a gun on his hip,” Griffith wrote. “Mr. Kanniainen stated he did.”
The school and a Catholic church of the same name are next to each other, though Tim Bishop, spokesman for the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston, said they’re two separate structures.
He deferred other questions to police.
Tom Peyton, Kanniainen’s Nitro-based lawyer, said “my client has attended church there for decades, to my understanding, and was there for the purpose of adoration [a type of Catholic worship], which would have nothing to do with the school activities.”
Peyton said he didn’t know whether Kanniainen had passed through any school area or area including children on his way to where he was worshiping. Peyton said his client knew he had the gun on him.
If convicted of the felony charge, Kanniainen faces two to 10 years in prison or a fine of up to $5,000, or both a fine and imprisonment.