The Woodward News

November 27, 2012

UPDATE: 8th grader arrested for bringing bb gun to school

Chris Cooper
Woodward News

Woodward, Okla. — An 8th grade boy was arrested Tuesday for bringing a bb gun to the Woodward Middle School.

Related Stories: "Officers check out report of weapon at middle school," "DETECTIVE: Student found gun in bush, turned over to crossing guard"

The school was briefly placed on lockdown after officials received the report of a weapon on campus around 8 a.m.  The lockdown was conducted to ensure the safety of students and staff at the school while law enforcement authorities investigated the incident.

But officials later said that it didn't appear that any students or teachers were in harm's way during the incident.

Initially Woodward Police Det. Lt. Chuck Wheeler said authorities were told that a student had found the gun in some bushes near the school and turned it over to the school's crossing guard.

However, upon further investigation the detective said it was learned that "Apparently an 8th grade male brought the bb gun pistol to school allegedly for the purpose of selling it. He was carrying it in his waist band and hid it in some bushes. Later he came back and retrieved it, at which point decided to turn it over."

Wheeler described the bb gun as "a realistic looking black handgun."

Once police learned that the gun was intentionally brought to the school the boy was arrested on charges of unlawful carrying of a weapon on school property.

In addition to his arrest, the 8th grader faces scholastic punishment as well.

According to the Woodward Public School policy manual, students who bring weapons to school "will be suspended."

However, the policy manual doesn't outline a specific suspension period for violating the anti-weapon policy.  

Woodward Superintendent Tim Merchant said that "Reprimanding is on a case by case basis, each case is considered individually, but any weapon brought on to school grounds is taken very very seriously, and discipline measures will reflect how seriously we take it."

Merchant said the quick response of school officials and law enforcement in getting the school on lockdown and officers on scene Tuesday morning also shows how seriously the issue of weapons at school is taken in Woodward.

"I want to commend our resource officers and our city as a whole, including the police department and all those who responded," he said. "Any perceived dangerous situation we have to take every precaution we can. Even though there was no direct threat you have to react to the initial information you have and everyone did their job and did it well."

While pleased with the response of the school faculty and police, the superintendent said there is still much to learn from this situation.

"After any situation we get together and discuss how everything went, even with this morning. Once we get everyone back together administratively, faculty and resource officers, we'll get together and evaluate anything we need to tweak or change to make the process better," he said.

The superintendent also said that while Tuesday's incident was regrettable, the school district and community can be grateful that the situation wasn't worse.

"We regret the situation occurred, it was unfortunate, but the good news is it was only a bb gun, that's great news," Merchant said. "The other good news is that  the system we have in place to keep students safe is well tested this morning and it worked the way it was designed to work. The best news of all is at no point in time were students in any direct threat."



SECOND ARREST IN 2012

This is the second time in 2012 that a Woodward Public School student has been arrested for bringing a gun to school.

In March, a 9-year-old boy at Cedar Heights Elementary was arrested after it was discovered that the boy brought a plastic, airsoft rifle to the school.

In that case, both school and police officials believed that the airsoft gun was accidentally brought to school.  However, the boy was still arrested because the school district has a zero-tolerance policy against weapons.

Related story: "Boy arrested for having 'plastic gun' at school"