- By Parker Perry Staff Writer
An 8-year-old Springfield student at Simon Kenton Elementary School faces charges for allegedly bringing an unloaded gun to the school.
A teacher found the .380 semi-auto pistol in the student’s backpack while putting homework inside his backpack, according to Springfield Police Capt. Mike Kranz. The student will face a charge of possession of a deadly weapon in a school safety zone, Kranz said.
The student got the gun from his home, the captain said. The ammunition for the weapon was stored at a different location in the home, Kranz said, and police are still investigating whether any laws were broken by the student’s parents.
A Springfield police report says the boy said he was sorry for bringing the gun to school.
“He was very cooperative and apologetic,” the report says. “He also stated that somebody was going to jump him today and that’s why he brought the gun.”
The district takes weapons in schools seriously, Springfield City Schools Superintendent Bob Hill said, and student safety is a top priority.
“The incident was handled quickly and swiftly,” Hill said. “I’m very proud of the Simon Kenton staff for everything they did and the handling of the situation. No students were harmed and at no time were students unsafe.”
Hill didn’t know the specific details about why the boy feared being jumped but said he’s confident Simon Kenton staff members handle any issue of bullying or harassment.
No ammunition was found in the book bag, Hill said, but the student will face discipline.
Parents should feel comfortable sending their kids to school, Hill said.
“Your kids are safer in our building than they are on the streets or even walking to and from school,” he said. “We have some of the most advanced security features of any of the schools in Clark County. We have spent countless dollars with public support to make these buildings secure and safe.”
Guns in schools have been at the center of attention recently as 17 students and teachers were killed in South Florida during a school shooting last week. The local area has seen its share of guns in school, too. Last year, a school shooting occurred at West Liberty-Salem High School and last month a gun was brought to Northwestern High School, according to German Twp. police.
“As a parent and as a resident of Clark County, you wonder about if it’s safe to send your children to school and will they return home safely,” Springfield parent Nina Wiley said. “I think everyone’s on high alert. We look at backpacks, bags, duffle bags, especially in schools right now.”
The district is always looking for ways to improve safety, Hill said.
“We are all ears and we are happy to engage in conversations for ways to be proactive to address any of these issues,” Hill said. “The best way to keep our students safe is having a partnership with parents and the school.”
There are always conversations about how the schools can be safer, Hill said, and this incident will prompt a discussion.
“You can always reflect back on the systems you have in place. There are always things you can do better,” he said.
Students at Simon Kenton Elementary were informed Wednesday about the incident, Hill said, and the teachers went over what students should do if they see a danger.
“If something doesn’t look right, if something doesn’t seem right, they have to report it to an adult,” he said.
An upgrade in security isn’t immediately planned as a response to Tuesday’s gun incident, Hill said. Incidents that involve guns at school are rare in Springfield and this was the first time since he became superintendent here that a gun was found, he said.
Springfield City Schools don’t have metal detectors and Hill said few schools across the country do.
“This is an isolated incident here in Springfield,” he said. “Will this cause us to reflect on our system? Sure, absolutely. Will we probably make some enhancements in terms of human behaviors to help with this? Absolutely. Staff and student safety is clearly our No. 1 priority.”