Saturday, October 22, 2005

LHS athletes had pellet guns in locker room

Ten Lincoln High School varsity football players were cited and suspended earlier this month for firing Airsoft pellet guns in their locker room, according to police and school officials.
Many of the teenagers had the pellet guns since early September, but they weren’t found until Oct. 4, when a 17-year-old was shot in the eye, said police Officer Katherine Finnell. He suffered swelling and blurred vision but was not seriously injured, Finnell said.The pellet guns, which can be purchased at Wal-Mart, Scheels, Shopko and other Lincoln stores, are the latest trend among teens, Finnell said.Problem is, it’s illegal to fire them in the city.
According to a city ordinance, discharging a projectile from any type of weapon — including a toy or a slingshot — is illegal when doing so endangers people or property.The guns can cause welts and other injuries, Finnell said.“They are the rage, now,” she said. “It can be very dangerous.”The 10 Lincoln High students were ticketed for discharging a weapon within city limits. The student who accidentally shot the 17-year-old was cited for third-degree assault. The boys also were suspended, according to school officials.They missed two Lincoln High football games, against Fremont on Oct. 7 and against Lincoln Southwest on Oct. 14. Lincoln High lost both games. The boys are back at school and played in Thursday’s game against Kearney. They also lost to the third-ranked Bearcats.The students had been firing the guns at the walls of the locker room and at each other for fun after practice, Finnell said.“Boys will be boys,” said Lincoln High football coach Jose Jefferson, who discovered the pellet guns. “I’m not upset, just a little disappointed. We lost 10 players for two games.“It’s done. It’s over with. We learned.”Lincoln High Principal Mike Wortman said, “We have always tried to do what we can to make Lincoln High a safe place, and we will continue to do that.”Rachelle Amory, 18, and Teresa James, 17, both Lincoln High students, said a letter about the incident was mailed home to parents.Other LHS students on their Friday lunch break said guns — Airsoft or otherwise — had no business in school.“A gun of any sort should not be allowed,” said James Fuehrer, 17. “It was taken way too far.”Said Steven Calim, 16: “Boys will be boys, but the whole football team?”Reach Josh Swartzlander at 473-7120 or jswartzlander@journalstar.com.Airsoft pellet gunsAirsoft guns, which shoot plastic pellets, rapidly are gaining popularity. They are sold in stores across Lincoln. But it’s illegal to fire them within city limits.The guns come in various shapes and sizes. They worry police, not only because they cause injuries, but also because they can be mistaken for real guns.Source: Lincoln Police Department

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