Sheriff says there is no one to charge: Pre-K student’s weapon cannot be traced to owner

SHEILA MATHEWS :::

With many local families expressing outrage over the announcement that no charges will be brought against the parents of the four-year-old Jordan Hill Elementary School Pre-K student that on Aug. 27 took a loaded handgun to school, Spalding County Sheriff Wendell Beam said a thorough investigation resulted in dead ends that left no prosecutorial options.

“Actually, with the gun, we could not put an owner with it. The kid told us two or three stories and we couldn’t establish what was true,” Beam said. “We don’t know if the child got it at home. He first said he did, but then later, he said he found it.”

The handgun, identified as a .22-caliber magnum pistol, was not registered, and Beam said the family denied ownership of the weapon.

Investigators did attempt to trace the gun, but met that also resulted in a dead end.

“They did trace it back some, but it came to the point that it couldn’t be traced any further,” Beam said.

He explained that the original owner was identified, as was the party who later purchased it through a private sale, but investigators were unable to link it to an individual.

“It was later sold, I believe, at a gun show. After that, we couldn’t trace it any further,” Beam said. “At this point, we just don’t have a legal owner of the gun, and we can’t put it in anyone’s hands but the child.”

Asked if any discernible fingerprints were recovered that could link the weapon with an adult owner, Beam said, “There were no prints except the child’s and administrators. It had already been handled by to many people at the school, so we were unable to obtain prints to identify any owner.”

He said ballistics testing has not been conducted on the handgun to determine if it had been previously used in the commission of a crime, but that he is unaware of any recent incidents involving that specific weapon.

Officials of the Griffin-Spalding County School System had reported the weapon was loaded when it was discovered and reported by another student at the end of last Tuesday’s school day, and Beam confirmed the handgun was equipped with two or three rounds.

“Unfortunately, the DA’s office didn’t really have anywhere they could go with bringing charges because an owner couldn’t be identified,” Beam added. “It’s sad a child could come into possession of a firearm.”

The little boy who possessed the handgun was suspended for three days as investigations were conducted. He returned to class yesterday.

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