Police: Northwestern teen ‘thought it was cool’ to bring gun to school

Updated Jan 25, 2018
  • By Parker Perry
  • Staff Writer

The student who allegedly brought a loaded gun to Northwestern High School on Wednesday morning reportedly told investigators he thought it was cool to do so.

Parents also questioned why the district waited nearly 12 hours before alerting them to the incident and Northwestern leaders said they informed them as soon as they confirmed that the the weapon was actually in school.

The 15-year-old student allegedly admitted to bringing the .25-caliber pistol on a school bus to show his friends, Lt. Russell Garman of the German Twp. Police Department said.

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“I asked him, ‘Was there any bullying or were you being threatened by anybody?’ and he said it was nothing like that,” Garman said. “He said he had found the gun at home and that he thought it was cool and that he had brought it to school to show his friends.”

German Twp. police were already at the school Wednesday morning as part of their agreement with Northwestern when a student reported to the staff that a gun might be in the building, Northwestern Board President Andy Gundolf said.

Garman said an assistant principal at the high school was alerted that the student, who neither Gundolf or Garman identified, possibly had a gun in his backpack. He was removed from his class immediately and without incident.

“Later on an investigation was conducted throughout the day and the weapon was located and recovered,” Garman said.

The gun at one point was on the bus with the student and then inside the school, Garman said. The weapon was eventually recovered in the student’s grandmother’s car.

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“He did admit when he got picked up in the morning he did have it and dumped it later on,” Garman said. “He knew that they were onto him so he got rid of it.”

The district waited until about 9 p.m. to make a phone call alerting parents to the incident. It was sent after evidence was found that confirmed the gun might have been on school premises, Gundolf said.

“The communication delay is a parallel of the time of the investigation,” Gundolf said. “The investigation was ongoing throughout the day and the student was removed from our property and no firearm was found. As the investigation unfolded, the firearm was recovered off of school property.”

Parents have contacted the Springfield News-Sun asking why Northwestern didn’t inform parents sooner. District grandparent Claudia McBride said parents should have been alerted that the school was investigating such a serious allegation.

“The parents should have known that they had a student with a loaded weapon,” McBride said. “Changes need to be made. A lot of these county schools think they are going to be OK because they are in the country, but they are not. I think they need to make better standards to protect our children.”

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Having metal detectors at the school would be a good idea, she said.

Gundolf said he has heard complaints but assures the community that the school worked fast to make sure every child was safe.

“We were able to communicate the facts,” Gundolf said. “It was evolving throughout the day.”

Safety is a top priority, he said.

“I am a parent in the same building and classes and safety is the utmost importance,” he said. “We are happy we had a student that came forward.”