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Published On: Wed, Feb 6th, 2013

10-year-old arrested and charged after bringing a plastic gun to Virginia school

A 10-year-old Virginia boy was arrested after police said he brought a toy handgun to school on Tuesday, a day after he showed it to others on a school bus.

The boy, a fifth-grader at Douglas MacArthur Elementary School whose name is not being released, was charged as a juvenile with brandishing a weapon, police said.

He was also suspended from school, and Alexandria City Public Schools Superintendent Morton Sherman said further action is being considered, including expulsion.

Photo/Skiddie2003 wikimedia commons

Photo/Skiddie2003 wikimedia commons

On Monday, the boy showed the plastic gun to at least one other student during a bus ride home from the school. The 10-year-old did not point it at anyone or threaten to shoot it, but he neglected to mention that the weapon was fake, said Alexandria police spokeswoman Ashley Hildebrandt.

School officials learned about the bus incident on Monday evening and immediately started investigating. Alexandria police spoke to school administrators on Tuesday morning.

When the boy arrived, police found the toy in his backpack. The child was taken into custody, booked at a juvenile detention center and then released to his parents.

“The safety of our students is always our first concern,” Sherman said. “We appreciate the quick response and action by our police.”

The toy resembled a semi-automatic handgun, said police spokesman Jody Donaldson. It was silver and had a black handle. It also had a orange tip that went into the barrel, showing that no ammunition was coming out of it.

In light of current events involving schools and guns, Donaldson said police “do have a heightened sensitivity to any rumor or concern” about a student possibly having a firearm.

“Any time we get a call like this, we take it very seriously until we can determine the extent of the weapon — if it’s real or not — and what the student intends to do with it,” Donaldson said.

But some people said police and school administrators overreacted.

“A toy gun is no danger to anyone,” said Liane Rozzell, executive director of Families & Allies of Virginia’s Youth. “A 10-year-old is not a fully formed adult by any means. And that kind of situation should be dealt with outside the courts and the justice system.”

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About the Author

- Roxanne "Butter" Bracco began with the Dispatch as Pittsburgh Correspondent, but will be providing reports and insights from Washington DC, Maryland and the surrounding region. Contact Roxie aka "Butter" at [email protected] ATTN: Roxie or Butter Bracco

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