Parents charged in school gun incident

By Eva Queen - [email protected]

The parents of a Cedar Ridge Elementary School student have been charged after their child pulled a gun from his book bag while on a county school bus Thursday afternoon.

The parents were each charged with misdemeanor failure to store a firearm to protect a minor, according to the Surry County Sheriff’s Office.

No one was injured in the incident, nor apparently even threatened, when the student took the gun from his book bag to show it to another student. The handgun was taken from the student immediately by the bus driver, the bus then returned to Cedar Ridge Elementary, where local school district officials were notified, along with Surry County Sheriff’s Office and the parents of the student.

Because the student is a juvenile, officials are prohibited from releasing his name by state law. While his parents’ names and charges are public record, The Mount Airy News has opted not to identify them publicly out of concern doing so would, by extension, identify the student.

The investigating officer, Surry County Lieutenant David Hamlin, said the call came in after school around 3 p.m. He said the student was presumed to have had the handgun in their bag throughout the school day.

“The student is under suspension,” said Travis Reeves, superintendent for Surry County Schools. Reeves said until the sheriff’s office is finished with its investigation of the event, the schools won’t start their own so as not to interfere.

“Good news is no one was hurt,” said Reeves, who said there were no bullets nor ammunition found on the student. “I think it is okay to have firearms in the home, but we do need to educate our kids and secure those firearms.”

Surry County schools are not releasing any information regarding the student. Further disciplinary action after suspension will follow the closed investigation of both the sheriff’s office and the county schools.

The student has been referred to juvenile services.

The parents were released by a Surry County magistrate on a written promise to appear in court.

Surry County Sheriff Graham Atkinson said these sorts of calls are rare locally, but not unheard of, occurring “Maybe once a year,” he said.

“I have never responded to one of these calls where a kid had a bad intent or a plan to use the weapon,” the sheriff said.

As required by law, a student who brings or possesses a firearm or destructive device on school property or at a school-sponsored event must be suspended for 365 days, unless the superintendent modifies, in writing, the required 365-day suspension for an individual student on a case-by-case basis.

The law does give some exceptions to that suspension if the student took or received the firearm or destructive device from another person at school or found the firearm or destructive device at school, delivered or reported the firearm or destructive device as soon as practicable to a law enforcement officer or school personnel, and had no intent to use the firearm or destructive device in a harmful or threatening way.

In addition to being a violation of state law, the county school board prohibits students from possessing, handling, or using weapons on school grounds.

By Eva Queen

[email protected]

Reach Eva Queen at (336) 415-4739 or [email protected]

Reach Eva Queen at (336) 415-4739 or [email protected]

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