Student accused of school gun offenses
A 16-year-old student at Central High School in Woodstock was arrested Friday afternoon in school as a result of an investigation into a report he was carrying a handgun.
No one was injured or threatened, but authorities locked down the school and canceled a pep rally as members of the Sheriff’s Office investigated. School was dismissed at the usual time.
The defendant, a Woodstock resident, was charged with three counts each of possession of a gun on school property; participation in a gang; transporting a gun as a minor and one count of larceny, all felonies except for transporting a gun as a minor.
Maj. Scott Proctor of the Sheriff’s Office said Friday evening that the defendant was being transported to the Northwestern Regional Juvenile Detention Center in Winchester.
Proctor said the student was arrested and charged after school and law enforcement officials removed him from a classroom and found a loaded 9 mm handgun concealed in his waistband.
Interviews with other students revealed that the boy had also brought the gun to school on Wednesday and Thursday, Proctor said. The Sheriff’s Office learned of the alleged offense through another student who contacted a school resource officer.
Proctor said there was no indication that the students who were interviewed had any direct role in the incident, but Sheriff Timothy C. Carter said they knew that their classmate had been bringing a handgun to school.
“A child came forth today,” Carter said, “but then we found there were other kids that had known about his activities a couple days ago, yesterday and today. We’ve got to get away from that attitude of thinking you’re the bad guy when you inform someone in authority.”
Carter said the student’s motive for allegedly bringing the gun into the school was self-defense.
“We don’t have any information to lead us to believe he was targeting anyone,” Carter said.
Proctor said the gang affiliation charges stemmed from a statement the defendant made to investigators that he was a member.
“That’s one of the items you can use to make a connection to gang affiliation,” Proctor said, adding that the investigation also found gang colors on evidence traced to the defendant.
Carter said he was uncertain about the degree of the defendant’s alleged involvement in a gang or whether he was even a full-fledged member.
“We want to send a message to young people this is not something you play around with,” Carter said of gang membership. “Don’t go around bragging to your friends that you’re in a gang, whether you are or aren’t.”
Contact staff writer Joe Beck at 540-465-5137 ext. 142, or firstname.lastname@example.org.