Student found with gun at Harnett County elementary school

Samantha Kummerer Image
BySamantha Kummerer WTVD logo
Friday, February 17, 2023
Student found with gun at Harnett County elementary school
A fourth-grader had a loaded gun in a backpack at Erwin Elementary Schools, officials said.

ERWIN, N.C. (WTVD) -- In the latest incident of a gun found on a school campus, a student had a firearm in their backpack at Erwin Elementary School on Friday.

School officials and the school resource officer found the loaded handgun inside a fourth-grader's backpack after other students reported it, according to Erwin Police Chief Jonathan Johnson.

"You would never think like things like that would happen in elementary school especially, maybe high school but never elementary," two Erwin fourth-graders who were in the same class where the gun was found told ABC11.

The gun was never fired and officials quickly recovered it so the school was never placed on lockdown. There were no injuries but extra police officers were at the school throughout the day.

"Everyone was just like crying in the classroom. Some of us were trying to comfort the other ones, but like that's scary!" the fourth-graders said.

The fourth-graders said the student who brought the gun pointed it at another student in the bathroom. Johnson said the police are still investigating this.

ALSO SEE: Wendell Middle student found with gun on campus

"We're following up on on that along with some other talk and stuff that's going around," Johnson said.

He also said police are still investigating what or if any charges will be filed against the student or the parents.

"One of the main ones that sticks out would be, you know, leaving your firearm unsecured where a juvenile can gain access to it. And of course, that's what we're looking into now to see kind of what charges could be brought forward," Johnson said.

The school system has notified parents and guardians.

"As a school district, we take all matters of stakeholder safety seriously and work diligently to notify everyone affected as soon as possible," a school spokesperson said.

Johnson credited part of the swift response to the presence of a school resource officer.

"I think it helps, you know, things are going to happen. There's going to be incidents where weapons may get on school property. But luckily, you know, with his training and the school staff's training, as soon as they got the threat, they immediately located the juvenile," Johnson said.

This is the fifth report of a gun inside a local school this week.

"We've been seeing this a lot. It's a huge concern, both as a Moms Demand Action volunteer and as a parent. I think there are two things that we can do to take action as parents about this concern. One thing is we can spread the word about how important it is to securely store our firearms," said Carey Ruddell, the Wake County communications lead for Moms Demand Action.

ALSO SEE: Gun found in 6-year-old student's backpack in Rocky Mount

Ruddell said she also encourages parents to support local lawmakers passing common sense gun policies.

"They had an opportunity recently to pass a gun safety awareness program that would have helped prevent instances like this but instead, they chose to combine that legislation with dangerous policies that were meant to please the gun lobby. So, parents, we can parents like me, need to reach out to our lawmakers and let them know how important gun safety is to us," Ruddell said.

She said districts and communities should also be having more conversations on gun safety.

The Harnett County School District will have extra officers at Erwin Elementary throughout next week as an added layer of safety.