Sixth-grader briefly holds classmates at gunpoint; no one hurt
LISBON, Ohio (AP) – A 12-year-old who told authorities he wanted to be with his mother in jail briefly held his sixth-grade class at gunpoint Thursday before a teacher persuaded him to give up the weapon.
No one was hurt and no charges were immediately filed against the boy, who was taken into custody.
The boy said ”his biological mother was in jail and he wanted to visit her, be with her,” said Anthony Krukowski, superintendent of Lisbon schools.
Police did not immediately confirm whether the mother was in jail.
The boy’s father told police the weapon – a loaded, 9 mm semiautomatic – had been stored on a dresser top with a fully engaged trigger lock.
Police Chief John Higgins, who would not disclose the boy’s name because he is a juvenile, said the boy apparently found the key and removed the trigger lock.
About 8:45 a.m., the boy stood up in his classroom at McKinley Elementary School, pointed the gun at the floor and told his fellow students and teacher to get down, Higgins and Krukowski said.
”It seemed like forever we were sitting on the ground. It was probably a few minutes,” said the teacher, Dan Kemats, 24.
A student in the hall overheard the exchange and summoned another teacher, Linda Robb, Krukowski said.
Robb stood in the doorway of the classroom and asked the boy if she could talk to him. The two walked out into the hallway and hugged, and the boy handed the gun over to Robb, police said.
The student was taken into custody by police in this city, which is about 25 miles south of Youngstown in northeastern Ohio, near the West Virginia and Pennsylvania state lines.
The Vindicator of Youngstown reported that the boy was on crossing duty with another sixth-grader, Katie Hartman, on Thursday morning. The girl said that at the end of their duty the boy told her: ”Goodbye, Katie. I won’t be back.”
She asked what he meant, but he didn’t answer.
Sixth-graders were sent home, but the other students were kept in class because the district didn’t want younger children going home without making sure their parents knew, Krukowski said.
The school, which has about 650 students from kindergarten through sixth grade, will be closed on Friday but will be open for student counseling.
”Naturally the students were shook up, any time you have an incident like that,” Krukowski said.
Krukowski said he wasn’t very familiar with the boy and was unaware of any behavior problems.
Vice President Al Gore, campaigning at a Cincinnati elementary school, said the incident ”once again raises the question that has confronted us so often in the past year or two or three. That is, how can we all come together to give our children better values?”
Gore said the student’s access to a firearm points out the need for gun control measures such as child-safety trigger locks.
Texas Gov. George W. Bush, the presumptive Republican nominee, said the government should provide mentoring and support programs for the 1.3 million sons and daughters of people in prisons.