After friends challenged a 9-year-old student about whether his parents had a gun, the student decided to bring it to school to prove it.
The fourth-grader waited until his parents left their Greenwood home for work, then grabbed the .22-caliber semi-automatic handgun out of an unlocked gun case, New Whiteland Police Chief Ed Stephenson said.
He showed the gun to another student while riding the bus to Break-O-Day Elementary School, 900 Sawmill Road, New Whiteland, on Tuesday morning, Stephenson said.
The gun was not loaded, and the magazine was left at home, according to a letter to parents Clark-Pleasant posted on the school’s website.
The friend told his teacher as soon as he got to school, and an investigation was launched and police were called, Stephenson said. The child knew that the gun was not loaded and did not intend to use the gun, he said. No one was threatened.
The child did not show other students or teachers the handgun after getting off the school bus, Stephenson said.
“I don’t know if he understood what the consequences would be or if it was a serious thing,” Stephenson said. “He said he knew it was wrong.”
Police officers were called to Break-O-Day, a school of about 500 second-, third- and fourth-graders, about 9:30 a.m. The student and his backpack had been removed from the classroom, Stephenson said.
Staff were alerted about why police were there, but the school did not go into lockdown, said assistant superintendent of curriculum and instruction Cameron Rains. No child at Break-O-Day was in danger because the principal intervened immediately, Rains said.
The child was taken to the Johnson County Juvenile Detention Center. Police still are investigating the incident. Indiana law says that students who bring a firearm to school must be expelled for one year.
Every parent in the school district was informed of the incident by a letter emailed to them and posted Tuesday on the school district’s website. Automated phone calls also were made to every parent, Rains said.
The parents of the 9-year-old did not know the child brought the gun to school, Stephenson said. The parents have cooperated with police, he said.
“We are greatly appreciative to the child who brought the information forward, and we ask that you please take this opportunity to remind your children about the dangers of weapons and discuss the importance of reporting situations like this to school staff,” superintendent Patrick Spray wrote in the letter to parents. “Every individual has a part in keeping our schools and community safe.”