Video of Bibb school gun incident has gaps

The Bibb County school system released copies of surveillance video Thursday from the school classroom where a gun discharged Aug. 25, but there were significant gaps in the footage.

A 13-year-old student has been permanently expelled from Bloomfield Middle School in connection with the incident, and he faces criminal charges, including a felony. No one was injured.

The 18-minute-long video includes at least four substantial gaps in time. School system spokesman Chris Floore said no content was cut from the video before it was released in accordance with a Telegraph open records request.

“There were no edits made except for blurring the faces that could be identified,” Floore said.

The school system reviewed the original video and found that it also contains jumps in time, he said. He explained the gaps as being “due to the limits of digital technology.”

Although a campus police officer wrote in an incident report that he was in the school office about 8 a.m. Aug. 25 and his assistance was requested “almost immediately,” the surveillance video appears to show the officer in the classroom as early as 7:57 a.m.

During the next 10 minutes, the officer appears to be standing beside a desk on the side of the room farthest away from the camera. He searches the area around the desk and appears to search a student.

Close to 8:08 a.m., the officer escorts a student from the room.

Just before 8:55 a.m. several officers enter the classroom and begin searching the room. Students hold out their arms as officers appear to use a hand-held metal detector to search them.

The officers leave about 9 a.m.

Meanwhile, the school system on Thursday denied a Telegraph request for the student’s disciplinary record.

A school system attorney, Canon B. Hill, wrote in a letter that disclosure is not required for records that are “specifically required by federal statute or regulation to be kept confidential.”

Hill cited the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act and said the act excludes student “educational records.”

Also cited in the denial was a state law excluding records of student discipline hearings from public inspection or disclosure under the state Open Records Act.

School officials confirmed Wednesday that the student had been assigned to an “in-school suspension” classroom, where the gun went off, but they would not say why he was being punished.

Floore said Wednesday that the student had past disciplinary issues.

In the campus police report released Wednesday, the officer wrote that he initially was told the student had set off a firecracker.

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, according to the report.

When the boy stood up, he slid his chair under a table. The officer pulled out the chair and saw a .38-caliber handgun in the chair.

The student is reported to have 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, according to the report.

The student, 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.

To contact writer Amy Leigh Womack, call 744-4398.