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Cops and Courts

Loaded handgun found in second-grader's backpack at North Elementary School

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EATON TWP. — An 8-year-old boy brought a gun Thursday morning to North Elementary School.

The second-grade student brought a loaded, semi-automatic handgun in his backpack, according to a news release by the Lorain County Sheriff’s Office. Midview Schools Superintendent Bruce Willingham said the boy told other students he had the weapon, and those students alerted the teacher, who immediately called district administration.

The incident happened as students were arriving and was done by about 8:40 a.m., around a half-hour before class started, he said.

“Luckily we weren’t in a situation where he was threatening anybody. He wasn’t waving it around or even took it out of his bag, but it was there so we definitely avoided a very scary and dangerous situation,” Willingham said. “I think it was just a really dumb, little-kid mistake trying to show it to people.”

He said the school was not placed on lockdown, as the weapon was out of the student’s possession within minutes of staff being alerted to him having it. Willingham said while the gun was loaded, it appeared to be jammed and would not have been operable.

“I think the North staff did a really nice job, and we talked to every parent in that particular classroom,” he said. “Any student that became involved with it in the room, that saw it or anything like that, we made personal contact with those families.”

The Lorain County Sheriff’s Office and Children Services were called to the building. The firearm was taken as evidence and the student was arrested and transported to the Lorain County Detention Home. The investigation is ongoing and charges are pending, according to a Sheriff’s Office news release.

Willingham could not comment directly on what would happen to the student at the district level but said there’s definitely school discipline measures associated with an incident like this, as well as any charges through Lorain County Juvenile Court.

Per Midview Board of Education policy, the district has a zero-tolerance policy on bringing weapons into buildings and a student can be expelled for doing so, though the board’s decision does take into account student age, prior disciplinary history, intent and the child’s mental or physical characteristics/ conditions.

Willingham said staff are working to determine why the student brought the gun to school — as interviewing young children is often difficult and takes time — but have determined the incident was not linked to any type of bullying or self-preservation.

“Shockingly, in talking to the kids, they weren’t too freaked out about it,” he said. “They were more worried about ‘Hey, what’s going to happen to the other kid?’ ”

Counselors and district social workers will be making trips to the school to help students and staff involved with or worried by Thursday’s incident, Willingham said. He also urged any student aware of another student talking about bringing a firearm to school, or in possession of any other weapon to alert teachers or authorities immediately.

Contact Carissa Woytach at (440) 329-7245 or cwoytach@chroniclet.com.
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