Education

Parents could face charges after teacher finds loaded gun in child's backpack, cops say

A loaded gun was found in a student's backpack at Oak Park Elementary School in Ocean Springs on Tuesday, March 27, 2018.
A loaded gun was found in a student's backpack at Oak Park Elementary School in Ocean Springs on Tuesday, March 27, 2018. jcfitzhugh@sunherald.com / File

The parents of a 5-year-old who went to school with a loaded gun may face criminal charges, a police official confirmed to the Sun Herald.

A teacher performing a routine check of students' backpacks at Oak Park Elementary on Tuesday morning found the 9mm handgun and notified school officials.

The gun was confiscated at about 10 a.m. and is being held as evidence, Ocean Springs Police Capt. William Jackson said. Police were on scene within five minutes, said Ocean Springs School District Superintendent Bonita Coleman.

The child's parents told police they put the gun in the backpack while running errands and forgot to remove it before the child went to school, Jackson said.

It's not clear whether the gun was in the child's backpack while the child attended school on Monday.

Prosecutors will present the case to a grand jury as a matter of concern, Jackson said. A possible criminal charge is possession of a firearm on school property.

Due to "extraordinary circumstances," copies of all reports will be turned over to Child Protective Services and Jackson County Youth Court, Jackson said.

It's at least the second time a gun has been found on a Mississippi Coast school campus since March 9. That's when an eighth-grade student took an "airsoft" gun to a Biloxi school and showed it to another student.

At least 15 schools across South Mississippi have confirmed reports of threats and alleged plans for a school shooting since the deadly Valentine's Day shooting at a school in Parkland, Fla. Broward County sheriff's officials say Nikolas Cruz, 19, slaughtered 17 teens and adults with an AR-15 semi-automatic rifle at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.

A school lockdown is a precautionary measure issued in response to a direct or nearby threat. It requires staff and students to respond quickly and comply with rules. Here’s how it often works.

South Mississippi schools have gone on lockdown, with heavy police presence, during perceived threats reported since the Florida massacre. One superintendent has blamed the scares on social media.

The Oak Park incident marks the second time in three months that a Mississippi Coast child has brought a gun to school. In December, a student at Pass Christian Elementary was found at school with a gun.

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