Three Washington Park Elementary students face serious discipline in separate incidents March 24 in which two brought BB guns into the school and another threatened a girl with a knife on the bus.
No one was injured during the three unrelated incidents, although the situation is still alarming to authorities.
“That was a heck of a day,” Washington police Chief Chris Luppino said. “I’ve never seen three incidents on the same day like that.”
He credited city police Patrolman Todd Foreman, the school resource officer working in the district, for taking care of the situations with the airsoft guns after students reported them to teachers.
“I think the major concern is how realistic these pistols look,” Luppino said. “It could turn tragic with these kids. It’s dangerous, and it causes panic in the school.”
Earlier in the day, a school bus driver took possession of a knife from an 11-year-old boy after he threatened to “cut” a girl while they were riding to school, Luppino said. The boy faces a charge of possession of a weapon on school property, Luppino said.
Hours later, a 7-year-old student in the second grade was found with an airsoft pistol in the waistband of his pants. Luppino said the student had showed other students the pistol, but never threatened anyone. He won’t be charged because of his age, Luppino said.
However, an 11-year-old student in the fifth grade faces a charge of possession of a weapon on school property after Luppino said he was found with an airsoft pistol in his backpack. He said the boy removed the orange tip on the muzzle, making the pistol look like a real gun. A student notified their teacher, who took possession of the pistol.
“They make them look so realistic, I don’t know if kids think they’re cool,” Luppino said.
Authorities declined to identify any of the students because of their ages.
Washington Superintendent Roberta DiLorenzo said the students face severe disciplinary action. She said the board will vote on the discipline during its April 14 meeting, but declined to elaborate on what punishments will be handed out to the students.
She urged parents to examine what is in their children’s backpacks before leaving the house.
“We understand that maybe these items are considered toys in their household … but if caught with these items in school it’s a very serious offense,” she said.
The incidents come four months after a ninth-grader brought a handgun to Washington High School and it dropped out of his pocket during a playful scuffle with another student. Foreman also handled that situation and Luppino said the school resource program started a decade ago has been helpful for both the school district and police department.
“That’s one of the best things we ever did,” Luppino said. “He knows all of the kids.”