North Jefferson News, Gardendale, AL

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January 28, 2013

Sheriff's office asks for parental help after toy gun, BB pistol incidents at schools

A string of incidents involving toy guns and BB guns has prompted the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office to ask parents for help.

Chief Deputy Randy Christian said Thursday that their school resource division handled three cases last week of toy guns brought to schools.

A high school in the Jefferson County Schools system reported an incident on Jan. 15, in which a student told the principal that another student was seen putting a gun in his pocket. The student was brought in, where he pulled out a toy pistol.

Over the next two days, two county middle schools reported similar incidents with toy guns, or in one case a cigarette lighter made to look like a gun.

No threats were made to students or faculty in any of those cases, and Christian did not reveal which schools were involved. Students were disciplined internally per JefCoEd policies, with no criminal charges filed.

But on Wednesday, deputies were notified by the principal of Brighton School that four children had been shot with a BB pistol.

The principal said that a 12-year-old student shot another student with the pistol on a bus, then passed the pistol around to 13- and 14-year-old students, who then shot other younger students.

Deputies and the principal then met with the students and their parents at their homes and at the school, where the suspects admitted to their involvement. Petitions charging the three shooters with harassment were obtained in family court on Thursday.

The victims, ages 8, 10 and 11, were not seriously injured and did not require medical attention.

Schools and law-enforcement officials are especially aware of gun violence in the wake of the massacre at an elementary school in Newtown, Conn. in which 20 children and six adults were killed.

“Toy guns should never be taken to school. Unless they have been requested by the child's teacher, it is probably wise to leave all toys at home,” Christian said in a statement.

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