WARNER ROBINS — A gun was found in a fourth-grade student’s backpack at Sacred Heart Catholic School in Warner Robins on Thursday morning.
Several students alerted administrators that another student brought a weapon to the school, located on South Davis Drive, said Maj. John Wagner of the Warner Robins Police Department.
Principal Staci Erwin said she then instructed a teacher to remove all of the students’ backpacks from the classroom suspected to have a gun into the hallway away from students in case a gun were to go off.
Erwin found a handgun in a backpack belonging to a fourth-grade boy, according to a police department news release. It was found before police arrived at the school shortly after 9 a.m., Wagner said. The gun was given to police.
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“It’s shocking and sad,” Wagner said. “Unfortunately, it’s become so commonplace.”
The student, 9, was taken to the Houston County Juvenile Division afterward and charged with carrying weapons within a school safety zone, according to the police news release. The incident is grounds for expulsion as outlined in the school’s handbook, Erwin said.
No students or teachers were harmed as a result of the incident.
While Wagner said the situation was unfortunate, he commended those at the school for responding quickly.
“I praise the students for letting the administration know, and I praise the administration for taking it seriously,” Wagner said.
Officials said the student showed no intent to harm anyone with the gun.
“It was almost a show-and-tell, not malicious,” Erwin said.
About 200 students are enrolled at Sacred Heart from pre-kindergarten to the eighth grade. It was the first gun-related incident in the school’s history, both Wagner and Erwin said.
“And God willing, the last,” Erwin said.
No other gun-related incidents at schools in Houston County have been reported this year, police said.
Warner Robins resident Brenda Guillory, whose son is a fifth-grader at Sacred Heart, found out about the incident earlier in the day through a phone notification she received from the school.
Overall, she said the school handled the situation to the best of its ability.
“They just followed protocol,” Guillory said. “I just hate that it had to happen.”
Tim Swearingen of Warner Robins, the father of a seventh-grader at the school, was surprised to learn of the incident Thursday afternoon.
“You wouldn’t think anything would happen like that at a little Catholic school like this, but the way society is changing, there is so much that is going through their minds,” he said. “I’m glad nobody was hurt.”
To contact writer Andrea Castillo, call 256-9751.