Teen in school gun case expelled

The Bibb County school system released a copy of the police report in a school gun case Wednesday, the same day the student charged in the case was expelled.

The student, a 13-year-old seventh-grader at Bloomfield Middle School, took the gun to school Aug. 25. It discharged inside a classroom, but no one was injured.

The Telegraph filed an open-records request after the episode to obtain the campus police report in the case. The school system initially denied the request, but the district released the report Wednesday afternoon, a week after the newspaper’s request.

Deputy Superintendent Sylvia McGee said the student was permanently expelled from school during a hearing Wednesday afternoon during which the school presented evidence. The student and his parents attended. The Telegraph is withholding the boy’s name because of his age.

Because the boy was permanently expelled, he cannot attend any public school in Georgia, McGee said.

She said the boy has the right to appeal his expulsion to the Bibb County Board of Education and the state school board.

School officials confirmed Wednesday that the boy had been assigned to an “in-school suspension” classroom, where the gun went off. McGee and school system spokesman Chris Floore said they didn’t know why he was being punished Aug. 25.

“We do know there have been some past disciplinary issues, but we do not know the severity,” Floore said.

In the report, a campus police officer wrote that he went to the classroom after a teacher called the school office and asked for assistance. In the classroom, the officer was told that a student had set off a firecracker, and he was directed to the student.

Here’s what happened after that, according to the report:

The student told the officer he “had had one firecracker and didn’t have any more.” The boy pulled out his pockets, but the officer still wanted to search him.

When the boy stood up, he slid his chair under a table. The officer pulled out the chair and saw a gun in the chair.

The gun, a semiautomatic .38-caliber handgun, had .32-caliber rounds in the magazine. The “cartridge” in the chamber of the gun didn’t eject because it was the wrong caliber, according to the report.

A list of items taken as evidence included two “.32-caliber cartridges.”

The officer handcuffed the student, took control of the gun and escorted the boy to his office at the school.

The boy told the officer he had found a gun in a drawer where he was sitting. He said he picked it up, intending to put it in his shirt and give it to the teacher, but he dropped it.

After the gun discharged, the boy picked it up and tried to hide it so he wouldn’t get in trouble.

The school system called the boy’s mother, who came to the campus police office.

The boy, charged with felony possession of a weapon at school and misdemeanor possession of a pistol by a minor, is being held at the Macon Regional Youth Detention Center until his arraignment.

Attempts to reach the boy’s parents by phone and at their south Macon home were unsuccessful Wednesday afternoon.

Although school officials initially said the student was 14 years old, the incident report lists the boy’s birthday as Nov. 29, 1995. Floore said the misinformation was due to a mathematical error.

The report also doesn’t mention a book bag where school officials initially said the gun was located before it discharged. Before the end of business Aug. 25, school officials said they weren’t certain where the gun was before it went off.

“That was what we were initially told,” Floore said.

The Telegraph requested a copy of the police report Aug. 26, the day after the gun discharged, in accordance with the state’s Open Records Act. The request initially was denied by the school system, which cited Juvenile Court privacy concerns.

The newspaper received a letter from a school system lawyer Wednesday. The letter said the system decided to release the police report after a further review of state statutes.

“The Official Code of Georgia provides that this is one of the very limited circumstances that would allow for the incident report to be disclosed,” the letter read in part.

McGee said the school system was not trying to be obstinate in withholding the report. “We have a balance of the community’s interest and the student’s privacy,” she said, adding that the school system was following the advice of its legal counsel.

Information from The Telegraph’s archives was included in this report. To contact writer Amy Leigh Womack, call 744-4398.