School Goes On After Loaded Gun Found Wednesday

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Fayetteville police arrested a Woodland Junior High School student Wednesday (Sept. 25) on suspicion of having a loaded handgun in his backpack on campus.

Parents dropped off their kids at Woodland on Thursday (Sept. 26) for a normal day of school. There were not any additional security measures in place, according to school officials.

"It’s going to be a normal day at Woodland today, you probably have a test at some point today and we have a football game tonight," Fayetteville Public Schools Spokesman Alan Wilbourn said.

Julie Thomas has a son at the junior high and said that she is pleased with how authorities handled the incident.

"I was frightened," she said. "I was trying to get ahold of my son and he wasn’t answering my texts, but I was pleased to see that the Fayetteville Police Department seemed to handle it very quickly and got it taken care of."

Chris Mclellan felt comfortable with his daughter returning to school today.

"It’s just good to hear that they responded so quickly and that he was found," he said. "We still feel pretty good about the school here."

The 15-year-old boy was arrested and faces charges of possession of a handgun by a minor on school property and fleeing.

The teenager is also facing a potential year-long expulsion from Fayetteville schools, according to Wilbourn.

The boy's mother believes that the incident was an accident and her son did not mean any harm.

An officer working at the junior high located on 1 E. Poplar St. received information that the student may have a gun. When he attempted to approach the teen, he ran off, according to a police report.

Police say the boy ditched his backpack behind World’s Gym on College Avenue. He was later taken into custody near King Burrito a few blocks away.

Officers said they found a loaded handgun inside the boy’s backpack.

The student had not threatened anyone and no one was injured, according to investigators.

One parent said that his daughter didn't seem to be affected by it.

"The gun didn’t go off, apparently no one was threatened," Findlay Edwards said. "She didn’t seem concerned about it, like it was a very distant thing.”

Paula Smith, who has a son as the Jr. high, said she’s concerned about what happened.

“It’s a wonderful school, it’s a wonderful community and we’re not immune to it,” Smith said. “It can be anywhere at anytime.”

The Fayetteville School District Spokesperson Alan Wilbourn said, “we wanted to make sure that the accurate information was out there quickly.”

That’s why on Wednesday, Fayetteville School District officials sent the following message to Woodland parents by text message and e-mails, alerting them to the incident:

Dear Woodland Families:

We had a situation at school today involving one of our students bringing a gun on campus.  The student was apprehended by the police off site, and the weapon was confiscated. The incident did not involve a threat.  We appreciate the rapid response of our School Resource Officer, the Fayetteville Police Department, and the campus administration.

We are cooperating fully with the police department, and the school district will take all appropriate disciplinary measures.

We wanted you to be aware of this situation. The safety of our students and staff is our number one priority, and we work daily to create a safe atmosphere for teaching and learning.

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