Sheriff: KRMS student admitted possession of firearm of school grounds Friday

SHEILA A. MATHEWS :::

School officials now say an investigation will take place to determine why a student found to be in possession of a firearm on Tuesday was allowed to return to school after he allegedly admitted having possession of a firearm on school grounds the previous Friday.
According to Spalding County Sheriff Wendell Beam, the 15-year-old male Kennedy Road Middle School student accused of bringing a handgun to school Tuesday has been charged with possession of a handgun by a person under the age of 18, possession of a handgun on school property and disruption of the operation of a public school.
The firearm has been described as a .380 handgun that appeared to be inoperable due to its rusty condition.
Beam said the student was first investigated Friday when school officials were notified that he allegedly had a gun at the bus stop earlier that morning.
Because the bus stop is located within the city of Griffin, the Griffin Police Department was notified. Officials say the student allegedly stated he had thrown the weapon into the woods at the bus stop, but a search did not result in the discovery of a handgun.
The student was subsequently released to his mother.
When asked why the student was allowed to return to school Tuesday after allegedly acknowledging possession of the weapon Friday morning at the bus stop – which is considered school grounds – School Superintendent Curtis Jones said he was not aware the student had made that statement.
“The first I heard of that is when you just told me, and I haven’t seen the Sheriff’s report,” Jones said.
Jones later explained the policy regarding school bus stops and disciplinary infractions.
“Once a student has disembarked from the bus, the area from the bus stop to the student’s home, that area is covered by the disciplinary policy,” he said. “We are responsible for student behavior in those areas, as well, so if an infraction occurs, we can take action.”
The following school day, Tuesday, May 27, the KRMS school resource officer was again notified that the same male student was in possession of a firearm. He was removed from the classroom by Principal Dexter Sands, but a search did not immediately reveal the weapon.
“According to some of the students, he had it on him, but when the deputy got involved, he did not have it on him,” Beam said. “He had already been removed from the room, and when that area was searched, the gun was found in that area where he had been taken to.”
Beam said a classroom disturbance was reported Tuesday, but he is unaware of the student suspect making any threats of violence.
“I am not aware of him making any threats. I’m not saying he didn’t, but I’m not aware of it,” he said.
Beam said he intends to speak to the KRMS school resource officer to determine if threats were made, and if so, additional charges are possible.
“At this time, charges have been made and a court date is pending, but it’s possible that if he did make threats, he could face additional charges,” Beam said. “The school resource officer will get with them (other students that witnessed the incident), and if there’s any other charges that can be made, we’ll consider it at that time.”
Jones said the school system’s investigation also remains ongoing and that he will particularly seek to determine what statements the student made Friday regarding possession of a weapon at the bus stop.
“I’m going to have to look into that because I don’t know at this point to whom he said that or when,” Jones said.
Jones said Sands is in the process of interviewing other students that witnessed the incident to determine the student suspect’s actions prior to being removed from the classroom.
“There are conflicting statements that are now being verified,” Jones said, citing various media reports. “We’ll be following up to make sure we fully understand what happened and when.”

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