A sixth-grade student at West Kearns Elementary School in Kearns, Utah was taken into police custody and charged with multiple counts of assault after bringing a gun to school Monday, reports NBC News.
According to school officials, he claimed that he was protecting himself against a shooting like the one that took place in Newtown, Connecticut when 20-year-old Adam Lanza forced himself into Sandy Hook Elementary and killed 20 children — ages 6 and 7 — and 6 adults, before killing himself.
The 11-year-old boy was seen by witnesses brandishing the .22-caliber handgun after pulling it from his backpack, said Granite School District spokesman Ben Horsley. One little girl, Isabelle Rios, said he put the gun to her head and threatened to kill her.
“Obviously that’s not the correct approach,” Horlsey said of the 11-year-old’s action. “We teach these kids on a regular basis that they have a responsibility to keep their school safe.”
Some witnesses have said they saw the boy brandish the gun on the playground and point it at another child’s head. Other reports said the boy verbally threatened another student with the gun. Police have not yet been able to confirm these accounts, Horsley said, noting that it’s sometimes difficult to sort out the facts when all the witnesses are children.
Horsley said two of the boy’s classmates complained to a teacher at about 3 p.m. MST, about 45 minutes before the end of the school day. The teacher immediately secured the boy and took him to the principal’s office. It was the principal who retrieved the boy’s backpack from his classroom and contacted Granite School District police. Police were able to find the weapon and secured the situation in three to five minutes, Horsley said.
The boy also had ammunition, although the gun was not loaded and it was not immediately clear whether the bullets were the appropriate ammunition for the gun, Horsley said.
The student was charged with one count of possession of a dangerous weapon on school property and three charges of aggravated assault, which is a third-degree felony, involving the alleged waving of the weapon at other students in a threatening manner.
Initially, the student said that his parents told him to bring the gun to school, but that was not the truth, according to Horsley, who said the parents are cooperating with the investigation. The boy will not be allowed back into the school.
“We have a variety of alternative placements for kids who violate school safety policies,” Horsley said.