Man who brought hatchet to Salem High convicted of disorderly conduct, released from jail

Posted at 11:11 AM, Mar 17, 2015
and last updated 2015-03-17 17:26:42-04

Virginia Beach, Va. - The man accused of bringing a hatchet into Salem High School in Virginia Beach last October was convicted of disorderly conduct and had several other charges against him dismissed during his trial Tuesday morning.

Kirk Beckwith Cowart was originally charged with Trespassing on School Property, Possession of a Weapon on School Property and Disorderly Conduct.

During his trial, the trespassing charge was dismissed because there were no signs on the school door Cowart entered saying "No Trespassing." The weapons charge was dismissed because the hatchet he was carrying is not classified as a weapon in Virginia.

Kirk Beckwith Cowart: Trespass on School Property, Possess Weapon on School Property and Disorderly Conduct

Kirk Beckwith Cowart

Cowart was ultimately sentenced to 365 days in jail, with 305 days suspended. For the remaining 60 days, he received credit for time served and was released Tuesday. He will remain on probation for three years.

Cowart, who gave a disturbing jailhouse interview just hours after his arrest, was originally found incompetent to stand trial. His trial was delayed several times while he waited for a bed in a mental hospital in order to receive a court ordered mental evaluation. He was eventually found competent to stand trial in February.

His father, Rob Cowart, told NewsChannel 3 that Kirk began displaying signs of bi-polar disorder after serving in the Marine Corps. Since his son’s arrest, Rob says he’s noticed a dramatic improvement in his Kirk’s health thanks to doctors and medication.


UPDATE: Salem High School hatchet intruder is competent to stand trial

Family of Kirk Cowart releases apology and appeal for better mental health care

Evaluation of Salem High hatchet intruder stalled due to mental health facility bed shortage

Man accused of bringing hatchet to Salem High School found incompetent to stand trial

Man found inside Salem High School with hatchet: ‘It seemed like a good idea at the time’

Father of man who brought hatchet to Beach school: ‘this is what the face of mental illness looks like’

Bond hearing for hatchet-wielding school trespasser continued until Thursday