A woman pleaded guilty to negligent storage of firearms more than a year after law enforcement searched her family’s Vadnais Heights home based on claims that their teenage son made threatening statements at school.
Lisa Stowe entered the plea to the gross-misdemeanor charge Monday, Aug. 6, after prosecutors offered her a deal she couldn’t refuse, according to her attorney, Samuel Surface.
The deal, called a “stay of adjudication,” means the charge against Lisa Stowe will be dismissed assuming she completes probation.
Lisa Stowe admitted during the hearing that her husband, Chris Stowe, improperly stored guns in their bedroom, Surface said.
Her decision to enter the plea wasn’t made lightly, Surface continued, adding that the Ramsey County sheriff’s office’s initial handling of the case amounted to “hysteria” and unfairly depicted what had happened.
“If you remember, at the time the Ramsey County Sheriff’s Office was acting like they’d stopped another Parkland shooting or Columbine and that this family was domestic terrorists, and they are not, and I think this resolution goes a long way toward establishing that,” Surface said.
Authorities went to Lisa and Chis Stowe’s home in March 2018 after it was reported that their 13-year-old son had threatened to kill a classmate at the Academy for Sciences & Agriculture in Vadnais Heights.
The Ramsey County Sheriff’s Office held a press conference shortly afterward, announcing that deputies had found illegal guns inside the couple’s house as well as a cache of other firearms, several of which were “loaded and located out in the open,” according to legal documents.
The incident came two weeks after the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida that killed 17 people, and then Ramsey County Sheriff Jack Serier suggested during the press conference that his deputies may have prevented another school shooting.
Chris Stowe was charged with two felony-level counts of possession of prohibited guns — authorities said they found a machine gun and short-barreled shotgun in the house — as well as one gross-misdemeanor count of negligent storage of firearms. Lisa Stowe also was charged with the lesser count.
Their son was charged with making felony-level threats of violence and was temporarily removed from the family’s home.
Relatives of the Stowes said at the time that the 13-year-old was autistic and that his actions were harmless and misinterpreted.
As for the collection of guns, the relative noted that the family has a history in the military and likes to collect firearms.
The Ramsey County Attorney’s Office wound up dropping the charges against Chris Stowe the following month after determining the firearms in question were rifles.
He was subsequently charged with negligent storage of firearms by the St. Paul City Attorney’s Office and that case is still pending.
Lisa Stowe is expected to be sentenced next month.