WARRENSVILLE —An Ashe County Middle School student could be charged with possession of a weapon on school grounds after he allegedly brought a BB gun onto ACMS property last week.
The incident initially occurred on Nov. 10.
According to ACMS Principal Dustin Farmer, he received a report on Nov. 11 from a parent of a child that had claimed to have seen a student with the weapon while riding the bus on Nov. 10. Farmer said another witness came forward and was able to give an identical story.
According to Farmer, the suspected student was searched on Thursday, Nov. 12 following interviews from both witnesses and the BB gun was found in his position at that time. Farmer said the student was questioned and admitted to having the weapon on the bus on Nov. 10.
Officer Brandon Miller, an ACMS student resource officer, said the air gun wasn’t loaded with ammunition and wasn’t equipped with its gas cartridge. Even though it was not a real firearm, it could still result in damage, injury or cause fear among other students – especially since the weapon had its orange barrel cone removed.
“Even though it wasn’t loaded or anything, just the presence of it and it being seen by other students, it looks like a real gun and causes alarm because of the times we are in,” Miller said. “They make these toys now to look like real guns.”
According to Miller, this student or anyone who brings a similar weapon on school grounds are putting themselves at risk.
“If he had it out, pulled it out in my presence or pointed it at me, it looks so much like a real gun that I could have cause to shoot. That wouldn’t be something that I would want for anyone,” Miller said. “That’s some of the danger with that even though it’s not loaded and even if he didn’t have the intent to hurt anyone.”
According to Farmer, following a meeting with Superintendent Dr. Todd Holden, it was decided that the student would be suspended for the remainder of the school year.
Bringing safety to schools
With gun violence in schools seeming to grow across the country, Miller says that ACMS has several measures in place to prevent such events.
ACMS students are encouraged to report anything suspicious. That turned out to be beneficial last week, as a student who saw the BB gun told her parents about the incident who then reported it to ACMS faculty.
“Fortunately for us, student awareness helps us catch some of this stuff,” Miller said. “If we even get the hint that anybody has anything they aren’t supposed to, myself and the administration pulls them out and searches them if need be.”
Miller said the school also holds K9 drug searches periodically and performs random locker sweeps to help promote school safety.
According to Miller, knives are found occasionally but it’s been at least four years since he has seen a BB gun or similar weapons brought onto school property.
According to Miller, the student has not officially been charged but a report has been turned into Juvenile Service for review and they will create a petition for Miller to sign. At that point, the student will be charged.
Miller said the petition is expected to come at anytime but it could be an additional three months before the case actually goes to court.
As for the reason the BB gun was brought to school by the student, Miller says he isn’t sure.
Hannah Myers can be reached at 336-846-7164 or on Twitter @cmedia_hmyers.