An 11-year old boy faces criminal charges after bringing a gun to West Kearns Elementary School in Kearns, UT yesterday, and allegedly threatening a classmate with it. According to Mediaite‘s Angali Sareen (who also writes for Addicting Info), the sixth grader told his classmates that his parents had advised him to bring the gun for protection after last week’s Sandy Hook shootings in Newtown, CT. According to multiple accounts, including Andrew Wittenberg’s write-up for Salt Lake City UT’s KSL.com, the boy had also given the same explanations to school administrators, but his classmate, Isabelle Rios had a different story to tell:
“He pulled out a gun and he put it to my head — me and my friend — (and) said he was going to kills us. I told him I was going to tell, but he said, ‘If you tell, I’m going to kill you.'”
Although the incident allegedly happened during morning recess, Rios didn’t say anything until around dismissal time at 3:00 p.m., when she informed her teacher. The teacher reportedly took the gun away and took the student to the principal’s office, where staff called the police. According to Granite School District Superintendent Ben Horsley, the gun and ammunition were in the boy’s backpack, but the gun was not loaded. Horsley also praised the teacher’s swift action and clear-headedness:
“This teacher in particular put herself with this student and took him into physical custody to ensure that he was not able to use that weapon to harm anybody,”
Although the issue was quickly resolved, no one was harmed, and school families were “briefed about the situation” that evening, according to Wittenberg, many parents do not find this reassuring. “I’m taking my kids out of school. They ain’t coming back here,” said school parent Mandy Doyle, who hopefully does not intend to homeschool her children in Language Arts. According to KSL.com’s Shara Park, another school parent heard about the news the next day and returned to pick up her 7-year old son. “He’s my only kid, my only kid, and it’s heartbreaking to think he might not come home,” Ashlee Gordon tearfully told KSL Tv5’s reporter and camera crew. “I don’t want to have to be at work and worry about my child not coming home before Christmas.” Other parents have reportedly expressed concerns about the gun not being discovered until the end of the day, and resent not being told about the situation until two hours later, at 5:00 p.m. “I’m scared; I don’t want to leave her [at the school],” said Courtney Morgan, a school parent.
Horsley explained that the immediate need to handle the situation was what caused the two-hour communication delay, and that he has made sure to have additional staff, police, and counselors on hand today to discuss concerns with parents and children. How the boy obtained the weapon remains unclear, but — according to Horsley — a visiting “extended family member” had left the gun behind (geez, Grammie, why couldn’t you have just taken up something nice, like knitting?).
“He’s made a poor decision here,” said Horsley. “I don’t feel this child is an evil person; he just made a bad decision.”
Talk about ‘bad choices,’ here’s a ‘decision’ this community won’t forget any time soon. Meanwhile, the students seem to have learned an important lesson: If another student shows up at school with a gun, 7-year-old Seth Gordon emphatically says, “I go tell the teacher.”
You can watch the video here: