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March 6, 2014

Pellet gun found in handbag at Lawrence High

LAWRENCE — Police and school officials are stepping up security at Lawrence High School after a pellet gun was found in the purse of a 14-or 15-year-old student on Monday, teachers union president Frank McLaughlin said yesterday.

The gun was found in a search of the student’s handbag that was triggered when either a guidance counselor or an assistant principal at the school’s math, science and technology academy smelled an odor of marijuana coming from the bag, according to a heavily redacted police report that blacked out the names of everyone involved.

Besides the Colt pellet gun — which had a broken trigger and so could not be discharged — the search turned up a small amount of marijuana, the report said.

The student said she did not know the gun was in her purse and said it was not hers, but would not say who owned it, the report said. She also said the marijuana was not hers.

The student will be issued a civil citation for marijuana possession, according to the report, which was written by Patrolman Thomas Caraballo, one of three police officers assigned to the high school.

The report did not say whether the student faces a weapon’s charge.

Chris Markuns, a spokesman for school Receiver Jeff Riley, did not respond to a question about whether the student would be disciplined by the school.

McLaughlin said she should be suspended.

“Whenever anyone brings in anything like this, it’s serious, obviously,” McLaughlin said. “It shows that the real thing could be snuck in very easily.”

“Parents shouldn’t have to read in the newspaper that a kid was caught with guns and drugs in school,” McLaughlin added. “There should have been (a letter) sent home.”

Since Monday, McLaughlin said administrators are spending more time in the hallways and have become more diligent about monitoring students in the halls when classes are scheduled.

Teachers at the school met just after the incident to discuss it, McLaughlin said.

Besides the three uniformed officers, who are unarmed, the high school has uniformed security guards and numerous security cameras. It does not have metal detectors.

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