Monday, December 19, 2005

Punishment handed out for airsoft gun incidents at Bettendorf school

While the Bettendorf School Board is deciding on punishment for five students involved in bringing two look-alike guns to the high school last week, three more students are accused of bringing knives to the building, officials said Thursday.
The two girls and a boy have been suspended and face potential expulsion as well, officials said.
“This does not happen often at all, but to have this many in a couple-week period …,” Superintendent Marty Lucas said.
On Monday, one student was expelled for the remainder of the school year for involvement in one of the gun incidents. Two will be expelled through the end of third quarter, Lucas said. Hearings for the other two students involved in the gun incidents will be held next week.
“I think the punishments were appropriate for the amount of involvement the students had in the incidents,” Lucas said.
On Tuesday, a student reported to an administrator that he knew of a girl who was carrying a knife, Bettendorf High School Principal Jimmy Casas said. Another girl and a boy subsequently were found with knives that had blades 3 or 3 1/2 inches long, he said.
The boy brought the knives and gave them to the girls, he added, commending the students who told an adult about the weapons.
No one was threatened with a weapon, and the students who brought the knives did not bring the knives because they felt threatened, Lucas said.
“They did something stupid,” he said. “They just weren’t thinking.”
Last year, the school had two weapons incidents, Casas said. One involved a student bringing a knife, the other a lighter that was used in a threatening manner. The year before, a loaded handgun was brought to the school.
This year’s gun incidents involved an Airsoft pistol and a pellet gun that was brought to school last week, officials said.
A student brought the Airsoft gun to return it to a friend who had left it at his house over the weekend. The gun was kept in a locker until the end of the school day, when one of the students reportedly put it in his waistband. A student who saw the gun reported it to her parents that evening.
The next day, the two students were picked up as they came to school and were taken for questioning, at which time they admitted to having had the gun on Monday, Casas said.
The gun looked real except for an orange marking on the end of the barrel, he added.
A third student then brought a pellet gun with him, Casas said, adding that he believes it was done to show off the weapon.
That student saw the two students with the Airsoft gun being apprehended by school officials as they walked into the building. He became scared and handed the gun to a girl, Casas said. She kept the pellet gun in her locker all day, overnight and into the next day, until a fifth student came to her to retrieve the weapon for his friend, Casas added.
A student who heard about the gun through word-of-mouth came to an assistant principal to report it Wednesday, he said.
Ann McGlynn can be contacted at (563) 383-2336 or amcglynn@qctimes.com.

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