The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

December 20, 2012

Police arrest student with unloaded BB gun on Carl Junction bus

By Ryan Richardson

CARL JUNCTION, Mo. — Carl Junction police and school officials are following up on separate incidents that put authorities on alert Wednesday and Thursday.

Police received a tip Thursday morning that a student on a bus had a firearm in his possession. Officers met the bus and arrested the student before it had reached the school, according to police Chief Delmar Haase. The student in question had an empty BB gun that he had planned to trade to another student, Haase said.

Haase said Thursday’s incident posed no threat to the students or the school district.

“The school bus incident seems to be an issue of circumstance, and there is no danger to the school or any of the students,” he said. The student was being held by juvenile court authorities Thursday afternoon, he said.

“This was handled properly by the police, and the school is now addressing the issue,” Haase said.

Superintendent Phil Cook said school officials had not decided on a punishment for the student.

“There will be something appropriate from the school relating to the incident,” Cook said. “However, it has been an emotional day, and we want to evaluate this situation with the facts and go from there. This is a case of circumstance, and it isn’t cut and dry. It’s better to go with the facts before we move forward with punishing the student.”

Thursday’s incident came on the heels of one Wednesday in which a student was arrested at the high school.

Cook said a student reported to school officials that another student had mentioned that he planned to bring a gun to school. Cook said no gun was ever at the school, and that the student who was arrested Wednesday had made no threat of violence with a gun or in any other manner.

That student, too, remained in custody of juvenile court authorities Thursday afternoon, Haase said.

“There are no threats towards the school, and there was nothing said about a planned attack,” Haase reiterated. “Considering recent circumstances, everyone is hypersensitive about the situation, and that can definitely heighten some of the problems and how quick rumors can spread.”

Cook said in a phone interview Thursday that the district acted quickly with both incidents.

“We take threats serious, as do the authorities,” he said. “We want the facts of what happened to be out there and for parents to know the reality of the situation, not rumors.”

Cook said an increased police presence at the school would continue until Christmas break.

“We have two full-time resource officers on campus at all times,” he said. “We also have an increased police presence at the school. The students know that the police are there to help.”