EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

November 8, 2013

Police take BB gun from boy at school

Superintendent: It looked like a 9-mm handgun

By Bill Cantwell

---- — HAVERHILL — School officials said a boy who attends Whittier Middle School brought a BB-gun that looked like a real handgun to school yesterday, but police and staff members took it from him.

The boy will be suspended from Whittier, likely for five days, and a hearing involving his parents will follow to determine whether he can return to school, Superintendent James Scully said. When asked how old the boy was, and what grade he was in, Scully refused to comment.

“It’s an automatic suspension,’’ Scully said. “I (will) review the facts and decide if the suspension is extended.’’

Yesterday, school officials sent an email to parents informing them of the incident. Based on that email and Scully’s comments, this is what happened:

The boy had the BB-gun at a school bus stop at the intersection of 4th Avenue and Cedar Street. School officials and police became aware of the situation, possibly through other students who saw the BB gun. When the boy arrived at school, the BB-gun was taken from him.

“At no time was there a threat to the safety of any student or staff member at Whittier School,’’ the email to parents said.

“The weapon had similarities to a 9-mm gun,’’ Scully said, adding a part of the BB gun that is orange to indicate it is not a real gun, had previously been removed from it.

When asked why the school was not locked down, Scully said, “It wasn’t necessary,’’ explaining that police officers got involved quickly.

“The police were involved right from the beginning,’’ he said. “When we have incidents like this, people use calm heads and can handle it quickly and with sensitivity. Regarding lockdowns and other such actions — we give careful thought before we push the panic button.’’