Gun, bullets, pot found in Bibb middle school student's book bag

Campus police found an unloaded handgun and eight bullets inside an eighth-grader’s backpack Thursday at Appling Middle School.

The gun is the second one seized at the school in the past 31 days -- and the third in the past year.

The student, a 15-year-old male, became verbally abusive with a teacher in the school cafeteria just before 8 a.m. as the teacher tried to break up an argument between that student and another student, said Chris Floore, Bibb County school system spokesman.

The student was taken to the principal’s office, where campus police started to perform a standard search, asking the student to turn out his pockets.

“He kept glancing at the book bag,” Floore said. “He looked suspicious.”

In response, campus police searched the bag and found the unloaded .380-caliber handgun, bullets and a small amount of marijuana, according to the school system.

The teenager, whose name is being withheld because he is a minor, became verbally combative with a campus police officer in the principal’s office and even tried to run away, Floore said.

He has been charged with possession of a weapon on school grounds, possession of marijuana of less than an ounce, disrupting public school and obstruction of a law enforcement officer, according to the school system.

The teen has been suspended from school pending an evidentiary hearing. The hearing must be held within 10 school days, Floore said.

No students or employees were hurt during the Thursday morning incident. The school was not placed on lock down because the gun was recovered, he said.

Four guns have been found on Bibb County school property so far this school year, Floore said.

An additional two incidents have been reported involving students, schools and guns.

A suspicious man who was spotted on the Northeast High School campus in January later was apprehended off campus along with a gun.

In a second case, the mother of a Southwest High School student called police after her son went home from school and gave her a gun he said he got from another student at a bus stop. Floore said there’s no evidence that gun was ever on campus.

Of the recovered guns, two have been found at Appling Middle, aside from the one involved in Thursday’s incident.

Campus police found an unloaded handgun in a seventh-grader’s possession Feb. 1 after a student told a faculty member that the student had the gun. Police also found the student had six bullets and marijuana, according to the school system.

Feb. 18, the student pleaded guilty in Bibb County Juvenile Court to possession of a weapon on school grounds, possession of a weapon by a minor, misdemeanor obstruction, possession of marijuana with intent to distribute and disrupting public schools, prosecutor Mike Smith said.

He was sentenced to serve a year in a youth detention center and four years on probation. The school system expelled him, Smith said.

A 15-year-old male student was sentenced to serve a year on probation and 100 hours of community service and counseling after he fired a starter pistol from a school track meet in Appling Middle School’s gymnasium April 5, 2010.

Fifty or more people were inside the gym when the student fired the gun. The gun fired blanks and no one was hurt.

Since a 13-year-old student accidentally discharged a gun at Bloomfield Middle School on Aug. 25, 2009, the school system has formed a closer partnership with the Bibb County Sheriff’s Office and Macon Police Department to bring drug- and gun-sniffing dogs into schools for random searches, Floore said.

So far, nothing has been found as a result of the dog’s searches, he said.

Metal detecting wands also are used to search students in selected classrooms on the days of the dog searches, Floore said.

A search of four Ombudsman Program sites -- located on Eisenhower Parkway, Riverside Drive, Mercer University Boulevard and Bloomfield Middle School -- was performed Thursday. The program is an alternative school for students with disciplinary issues and other students who need to complete classes through non-traditional coursework, he said.

“Nothing was found,” Floore said.

The majority of the weapons and drugs found are due to students and parents alerting school officials, Floore said.

“We want to encourage that,” he said.

Information about the Thursday gun incident is being disseminated to parents through a letter sent home with students and with automated phone call in the morning and evening.

Information from Telegraph archives was used in this report.