Pellet Gun Hits Three Students at School
By Dan Breitwieser, WCJB TV 20 News.
Deputies say the owner of the gun was not angry at anyone, but was just showing it off. Even though it wasn't a real gun, some parents are still upset.
Sheriff's deputies are down-playing what happened at Fort Clarke Middle School, saying that the gun is not powerful enough to hurt someone seriously. But some parents worry the next time the weapon might be more dangerous.
"Whether it's a BB gun, or a pellet gun, it could have been real," says Coi Owens, a parent of a 7th grader at Ft. Clarke.
Owens is also a high school teacher in Alachua County.
"I'm concerned because last year they were talking about taking sheriff's from the middle schools and we need them there every day," Owens adds.
Except for the orange on the tip, the airsoft pellet gun looks like a real handgun, but it shoots plastic pellets. Sheriff's deputies say a sixth-grader brought it in Thursday morning. While he was showing it off to a friend, they say he shot and hit two female sixth graders... and then the friend shot another boy. Deputies all the wounds were on the arms and legs.
"He had no grudge, no vendettas, nothing against any student that I've been made aware of," says Sgt. Jayson Levy, School Resource Bureau Supervisor for the Alachua County Sheriff's Office. "He just did it to do it, not thinking and being irresponsible."
Within a few minutes, another student told a school administrator, the resource officer confiscated the gun and arrested the two sixth graders without further incident.
"Kids may think because they consider it a toy, it's not all that serious," says Alachua County Schools Spokeswoman Jackie Johnson. "But law enforcement takes it seriously and the schools take it very seriously."
Friday afternoon Ft. Clarke parents and guardians are getting a note giving the details about Thursday's incident and also asking them to talk to their children about school safety.
One of the victim's told a school administrator that it didn't hurt that much, just like snapping a tongue depressor lightly on the skin, leaving a small red welt.
After listening to all sides, a school board member will make a determination of punishment in a hearing, then present it to the full board--probably within the next 30 days.
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