A Florida elementary school is reeling after a third-grader brought a loaded handgun to school “to scare some kids who have picked on him,” authorities said.
Three students at Lauderhill Paul Turner Elementary School, near Fort Lauderdale, said the unidentified 9-year-old aimed a gun at them and made threatening comments, according to a report by Lauderhill police.
Authorities said the student began approaching classmates Tuesday morning, saying, “You see this? This is a real gun.”
In the first case, the boy “removed the firearm from his right front pocket and then removed it from its holster … and showed that it contained bullets,” the arrest report says.
The 9-year-old then told the boy “he would shoot him” if he told anyone, police said. He then approached another classmate and pulled out the gun. When the student threatened to tell, the 9-year-old allegedly said, “Don’t tell the teacher or else.”
The gun was shown to a third student inside a classroom, according to the police report. That student also reportedly threatened to tell.
“Don’t tell the teacher, or I’ll shoot you in the leg,” the 9-year-old reportedly said.
A teacher at the school notified the vice principal after a student said the boy had a weapon. The school resource officer was notified and took the gun without incident, according to police. No one was injured.
The mother of the student who spoke up told CBS Miami she is grateful her child was not shot.
“What if the boy was angry and shot my daughter or just pulled the trigger,” said the woman, who asked not to be identified. “I just thank God my child was safe and he was safe too.”
According to the police report, the boy mentioned being bullied and said he brought the gun “to scare some kids who have picked on him.”
“The juvenile’s parents were visibly upset and denied the juvenile having a history of mental illness,” police said in a statement. “It is apparent that the juvenile’s actions was solely intended for the three victims and not for other class or school members.”
The boy was taken to Broward County Juvenile Assessment Center. He is facing charges of possession of a firearm on school property and three counts of aggravated assault.
According to the arrest report, the gun, which police identified as a .380 caliber Ruger, is owned by the child’s father. The gun was loaded, with a chambered round, and had no safety mechanism, police said. It was not yet known how the child had gotten the gun, according to the Miami Herald.
The school wasn’t placed on lockdown, and parents said they were notified of the scare in a robocall sent by the school’s principal:
“One of our students reported that another student was in possession of a gun on campus. School staff and our School Resource Officer immediately investigated and safely resolved the situation … I commend the student who came forward with the information today. By speaking out, we were able to respond swiftly, enact all proper protocols, and ensure students and staff remained safe. The safety and security of our students and staff are always our highest priorities, and we encourage all students, parents, employees and community members – if you see something, say something.”
Oseer Williams, whose son is in second grade, told CBS Miami the school was not forthcoming with information.
“We had no clue what happened,” Williams said. “I kind of feel the school should have been locked down, the kids should have been released, the parents should have been notified.”
The 9-year-old made his first court appearance on Wednesday. During the proceeding, the judge ordered the boy held on house arrest and prohibited him from returning to Lauderhill Paul Turner Elementary. The child must undergo a psychiatric evaluation and is not allowed to go online, Miami’s WPLG News reported. In making his ruling, the judge said the boy is not allowed to be around firearms. He’s scheduled to appear in court again on Oct. 11.
In Florida, a parent can be held criminally liable if a minor gains possession of a gun without permission and displays it in a public place or in a careless or threatening manner, according to the Giffords Law Center.
The family’s attorney told Miami’s WSVN News the boy’s mother had recently notified the school that her son was being bullied by classmates.
“I understand that when somebody’s being bullied, they have a fear upon them and they come to school, and they’re scared to come to school, but bringing a gun is not the solution,” another parent, Barbara Ford, told WSVN News.