LINDEN – School No. 2 was locked down last Wednesday when an old handgun brought to the school by a fourth grader was accidentally fired. No one was injured, but students and their parents were frightened by the incident.
The fourth grader, whose identity has not been released, was charged with one count of unlawful position of a weapon and one count of possession of a firearm in an educational institution, according to Linden police Lt. Raymond Tyra. He was released to his parents after talking to investigators. School officials said he had been suspended from school.
The boy told police he found the gun – a .380-caliber Bersa – two weeks ago in a rusty gas grill in his family’s back yard. The weapon was so weathered and rusty, police were surprised that it still worked. The boy’s parents did not know about the gun and have not been charged, according to Lt. Keith Aslin, who leads the juvenile investigations squad. Police were still trying to determine who owned the gun late last week.
The boy kept the gun in his book bag for several days before he decided to show it to classmates on April 23, Aslin said. Wednesday afternoon, April 23, the boy accidentally fired a shot when he showed off the gun inside a second-floor walk-in closet, police said. The bullet missed three students in the closet and lodged in an adjacent classroom, authorities said. The boy immediately dropped the gun, police said.
“This wasn’t Columbine,” Aslin said. “This was a boy who made a very, very big mistake. I honestly believe he had no intent to harm anyone.”
Officers immediately responded to the school, located on South Wood Avenue. They seized the weapon and searched every classroom before the remaining elementary school students were allowed to leave. No one was allowed out of the building for over an hour, and many anxious parents assembled on the corner waiting for news.
Superintendent Joseph Martino and Principal Kcyronne Zahir met with dozens of concerned parents last week, and counselors visited every classroom.