Thursday, March 29, 2007


Child, 11, brings gun to class, is arrested

Called a first at elementary school

By David Abel, Globe Staff March 28, 2007

The .44-caliber pistol was in the boy's backpack, officials said.

When his fifth-grade teacher asked him just before class ended for the day yesterday whether he had a gun, the 11-year-old at John P. Holland Elementary School said yes, authorities said.

Then, he took it out of his blue and gray bag and put it on his desk, while more than 20 students watched, school officials said.

The gun was loaded, police said.

School officials said it was the first time they have found a loaded handgun inside a city elementary school. The discovery shocked parents, some of whom said they would consider removing their children from the Dorchester school.

The boy, whose name was not released, allegedly told other students that he had the weapon. They told their teacher as they waited to be called to their buses shortly before 2:30 p.m., said Jonathan Palumbo, a spokesman for the Boston Public School Department.

"This is very disturbing," Palumbo said. "But we're glad that the students who found out about this had the presence of mind to inform their teacher."

He said the school had not had problems with the student and that he did not threaten anyone.
"There was also no indication that there was any reason why the student had the weapon with him," Palumbo said. "There was no threat of violence."

After the boy took out the gun, the teacher picked it up with a towel and brought it to the principal's office, Palumbo said. They called a school police officer, who had been outside helping students get on their buses. A few minutes later, the teacher, principal, and officer returned to the classroom, where the boy and other students remained, Palumbo said.

They took the boy to the principal's office, where he was arrested on charges of unlawful possession of a firearm, unlawful possession of a loaded firearm, unlawful possession of a firearm on school property, and unlawful possession of ammunition, police said. He is scheduled to be arraigned this morning in the juvenile session of Dorchester District Court.

Elaine Driscoll, spokeswoman for Boston police, said the boy told investigators he found the gun in a yard. The location is under investigation. "We want to remind youth that if you find a firearm, don't touch it; don't pick it up," Driscoll said. "Instead, alert police or an adult immediately."

Police informed his mother, and he was booked and questioned at the area C-11 police station late yesterday, police said.

This incident follows the report of a 14-year-old student who showed up at Dorchester's John W. McCormack Middle School on Friday with a .38-caliber bullet, two law enforcement officials with knowledge of the case said yesterday. They said the student threatened other students' lives and bragged that he had a gun at home. The officials said police later executed a search warrant at the student's home and found no gun, but they found the bullet.

Michelle O'Connell, the principal of Holland Elementary School, declined to comment.

Parents and neighborhood officials were furious.

I make no apology. This leaves me nearly speechless. So I am not even going to start...

I guarantee that there will be people who will try to justify the boy's action, even if he did not have permission to have or to carry the weapon.

And yes, I do realise that the gun would probably have broken both his arms had he tried to fire the thing.


Dave said...

I certainly don't justify what he did, although I think a pretty good case can be made for leniency as to the punishment. Given what we know, and assuming his story is true, it was a case of phenomenal bad judgement, rather than any sort of malicious intent.

Massachusetts of course has some pretty strict gun laws, and if the 'found in a yard' story is true it is most likely that this was an illegal weapon to begin with. It will be interesting to find out about that.

I fired a .44 for the first time when I was 12 years old. If the kid new how to shoot he could probably manage this weapon just fine. In any event, it certainly would not have broken his arms.

T. F. Stern said...

I don't think any rational thinking person would attempt to defend reckless behavior; however, there is a zero tolerance mentality that would exact a pound of flesh when such is not only not necessary, but contrary to the needs of a given situation.

There is a difference between the mentality of social misfits who take weapons to school in order to kill and destroy their fellow beings and that of a misguided youth who might believe that gaining the spot light among his friends through improper actions will elevate his standing. The social misfits are not the same kind of catagory as the "show and don't tell" stupid stunt kids.

On the side, thanks for your kind thoughts while I was having some medical issues this past week or so. I am feeling much better just knowing it wasn't a worst case senario and that I can get on with life.