Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Student brings plastic airsoft pellet gun to school

fake gun became a real problem Thursday in the Apple Valley school district.

On the same day new security cameras went up at Apple Valley's Environmental Studies School, a 14-year-old student brought a plastic gun to school, that shoots plastic pellets.

Police say the boy was on his way to class at the Alternative Learning Center. He took several school buses to get there and ended up shooting several rounds in several different places. Police say he fired in the high school cafeteria, outside the environmental school and on the bus itself.

No one was hurt, but buildings were locked down. The gun was found behind a cabinet in a classroom at the Alternative Learning Center.

"We're concerned about school safety all the time," says school district superintendent John Currie.

It's not the first time something like this has happened. Two other Apple Valley students were disciplined this year for bringing pellet guns to school. They were replicas that looked like the real thing.

Guns that shoot plastic pellets are known as airsoft guns. They can certainly seem very realistic. The orange tip at the end is the only thing that shows the gun isn't real.

"We're finding some of these as officers are stopping vehicles at night lying on seats of cars. That's not a good situation," says Apple Valley Police Chief Scott Johnson.

The guns are sold at toy stores and places like CC Military Surplus in Maplewood, where they check ID and have customers sign a waiver before selling airsoft guns.

"Used in the right place and time, airsoft is a sport that just like paintball, is safe as long as it's in an organized setting and in a place where you can go and do these things with appropriate safety gear," says Rick Michel with CC Military Surplus.

But police and school officials worry too many replica guns are getting in the hands of kids not trained to use them safely.

"I think students are viewing these things as toys and they're not, depending on how they're being used. They're quite serious," says superintendent Currie.

According to the Minnesota Department of Education, there were 204 incidents in Minnesota schools last year involving BB or toy guns.

As for the teenager who fired the plastic pellet gun Thursday in Apple Valley, authorities don't think he was targeting anyone specific.

But he will likely be expelled and could face criminal charges.

No comments:

Post a Comment