November 8, 2013

Toy gun leads to Blue Ridge Elementary lockdown

By Christopher Smith

— Blue Ridge Elementary School briefly went into lockdown at about 10:30 a.m. Thursday after it was discovered a student brought a toy gun to school, according to local law enforcement officials.

The lockdown lasted about 10 to 15 minutes, said Bruce Frazier, Dalton Police Department spokesman. During the lockdown, no one was allowed in or out of the school except law enforcement and students were kept in classrooms.

“Basically, a juvenile had a toy gun,” Frazier said. “The school went into lockdown as a precaution.”

Craig Harper, chief administrative officer for Dalton Public Schools, said the student brought the toy gun to “show it off to some friends.” School and police officials declined to name the student.

The student is now facing “disciplinary consequences,” Harper said.

“That could range from in-school suspension to a disciplinary tribunal at the district level,” he said. “The intent is to handle it at the school level.”

Harper said bringing a weapon “look-a-like” to school is against the school system code of conduct.

“You can’t bring any weapon or look-a-like weapon to school and not have consequences,” he said. “You never know with the ways toys can look realistic these days whether it is a toy or not.”

A police report stated the toy gun was found in the student’s book bag in a classroom.

“There was no threat of harm or injuries of any kind during the lockdown,” the report stated.

The student told police officers he found the toy gun at a flea market and had been told by his parents not to take it to school, apologizing to police and school officials for causing the lockdown.

Blue Ridge Elementary assistant principal Alan Martineaux told police that school officials learned about the toy gun when another student saw it being shown in the boys’ bathroom, reporting it to a teacher.

“All I can say is it wasn’t serious,” Martineaux said.

School officials sent a letter home with students Thursday.

“The student did not have any intention of using the toy to threaten or frighten,” the letter stated, asking them to talk to students about reporting “possible threats” to school safety.

“Please talk with your children about the importance of reporting any possible threats to their teachers as quickly as possible to help keep everyone safe,” the letter stated.

Harper thanked the students for speaking up.

“We appreciate students coming forward and letting us know there was something of concern,” Harper said. “It gave us ample opportunity to investigate. ... We always take these sort of things seriously.”