Hancock County

A stolen gun spent a day at a Coast high school, sheriff says. Here’s how it happened.

The Kansas City Star 2003

A Hancock High School student stole a 9mm pistol from his mother’s nightstand and brought it to school, where it stayed until another student took it home at the end of the day.

The student who stole the gun brought it to school and traded it for two pairs of shoes, “and we’re not talking brand new shoes,” Sheriff Ricky Adam said.

“And why would one steal from his Mama?”

The sheriff’s department was notified of the theft Dec. 10, when a Kiln woman reported her gun had been stolen, Adam said.

Deputies went to the home and a relative said a student who lives there had said something about taking the gun, the sheriff said.

After further interviews, deputies found the gun at a student’s home in Diamondhead, and seized it, he said.

Officials say both teens are 14 and the trade included $100.

Deputies arrested both students on charges of having a gun on school property and possession of a stolen firearm. The student who stole then gun also was arrested on a charge of petit larceny.

The students were turned over to youth court, which has released them to their parents. Both students have appeared before a judge, Adam said.

It wasn’t clear if the student who gave up his shoes got them back.

“It may have been a done deal by then,” Adam said.

It’s the third time this school year that a gun incident or a threat has been confirmed in Hancock County schools.

On Dec. 11, the school district sent this telephone message to parents:

“This is the Hancock County School District calling to inform you that a weapon was on our high school campus yesterday. The Hancock County Sheriff’s Department is involved and is currently investigating the incident. Hancock High School will follow procedures outlined in school district policy with regard to discipline.

“We are grateful this incident was reported and continue to urge all students, parents, and community members to contact appropriate authorities anytime there is a concern for safety. Remember, if you see something, say something. Thank you for your continued support of our schools.”

Guns on campus

A least 19 complaints of guns or threats of violence on South Mississippi campuses have been confirmed this school year, a Sun Herald analysis shows. In comparison, only six complaints were confirmed from 2003 to 2016.

Guns have been found in only five incidents reported across the region during the 2017-18 school year, according to official reports.

A spike in complaints occurred in February, when about a dozen alleged threats were reported at school campuses in South Mississippi. The local complaints occurred within a week or two of the mass school shooting at Parkland, Fla., where 16 students and a coach were killed.

But reports of a shooting at North Gulfport Middle School on Feb. 22 brought out police, a massive search and finally confirmation that it was a false alarm.

Only one other incident in Hancock County this school year resulted in the discovery of a gun.

In January, an eighth-grader at Hancock Middle School brought an inoperable .22-caliber handgun to school. Adam said a school official found it in the student’s book bag. The gun didn’t have a trigger mechanism.

Having a firearm on campus is punishable by expulsion from school.

Robin Fitzgerald covers real-time news, such as crime, public safety and trending stories. In nearly 40 years as a journalist, her highest honors include investigative awards for covering the aftermath of the fatal beating of a Harrison County jail inmate in 2006 and related civil rights violations. She is a Troy University graduate.