Canton middle-schooler pointed gun at a classmate

A Get Schooled poster surprised many of us today with her scary account of the Dean Rusk Middle School gun incident in which a 12-year-old boy brought a handgun and ammo to the Canton campus Tuesday.

However, according to the poster, what happened at Dean Rusk was far more frightening than what was reported:

“The truth is … is that this student who informed the school of the situation was actually held at gunpoint and robbed for her bubble gum while in math class wih a teacher present. He opened his jacket… pointed the gun at her and insisted on her giving him her bubblegum… said ” give it to me or I will shoot you and kill you” so she threw it at him… then he proceeded to pop the gun open and drop the ammo out. He put the ammo in one pocket… and the gun in another. This poor child was robbed at gun point…. and this situation has been diminished so small to a “buddy ratting out her friend.”

I sent a note to Cherokee school spokesman Mike McGowan this morning asking if there was any truth to this poster’s account.

No answer until this official statement came at 3:53 p.m: (The bolding is my work):

On behalf of the Superintendent, this is to advise that we now have a preliminary incident report on the Dean Rusk MS (DRMS) incident from earlier this week. Our ongoing criminal investigation has led to the school district police department filing additional charges of one count – Terrorist Threats and Acts and one count – Pointing a Pistol at Another- following interviews with students at DRMS.  The juvenile court has been made aware of these additional charges.

We are not at liberty to discuss details of an ongoing investigation; however,  I want  to clarify that, while the weapon was at some point in possession of the student, both the weapon and the ammunition were found in his locker prior to his being detained by  school staff.   I had previously stated erroneously that the weapon was found on his  person that and the ammunition was found in his locker.

This is far more serious and alarming than the initial report, at least to me. A letter is going home to Dean Rusk parents informing them of this latest development.

I called Mike again at 4 Thursday and his message was: “This is about all we are going to say about this today.”

However, he later followed up with this e-mail on Friday morning:

In response to your e-mail: the very nature of an investigation is to determine what is not known. In my capacity as Public Information Officer, I reported to you and others earlier this week that the Dean Rusk MS student had made no threats to other students. My mistake for making that speculation; but, that was the information that I had at the time. What has changed is that, during the course of the investigation, student statements have led our law enforcement officials to charge the student with the additional charges that I sent yesterday to you and others, as well as to parents at the school.

Rusk parents ought to pay close attention to how this unfolds. And to poster, Erin F., thanks for giving us a better sense of what happened.

36 comments Add your comment

DeKalb Conservative

November 19th, 2009
4:54 pm

Not to be crude, but if this is true, I hope this 12 year old gets to spend some time in the inmate showers in the county jail. That’ll give him a new lesson on guns being pointed and bubble gum. Plus it’ll make him know what it feels like to be the girl he is accused of victimizing.

DeKalb Conservative

November 19th, 2009
4:59 pm

This whole story just enrages me. This type of story should be the stuff of fiction. If this is true and this student is found guilty, I hope every school administrator makes sure that his/her students learn about this case, the consequences, and how this 12 year olds life will forever be different and the type of odds this young person will face as a result.

Maureen Downey

November 19th, 2009
5:03 pm

DeKalb, What I still want to know is where the boy got the gun. I was told it was possibly from a cousin, but that has not been confirmed. To bring a gun to school and point it at a classmate is extreme and dangerous stuff.
I hope that all parents, grandparents and aunts and uncles ensure their guns are locked and that the kids have no access. (Better no guns in homes with kids, but I know that won’t fly in Georgia.)
A legislator told me that his dad locked his guns, but that all the kids knew where the key was and often opened the gun case while dad was out.
Maureen

DeKalb Conservative

November 19th, 2009
5:33 pm

@ Maureen,

I’m torn on the gun issue. I have zero tolerance for these cases and I think it is very important in any legal setting that there is no gray area and no chance for redemption. If you’re found guilty of a gun crime, then a judge and our justice system should ensure that you get a equitable sentence regardless of class, race, etc. This doesn’t require any new laws being passed, just enforce across the board to the upper sentencing limits of current laws.

Personally, I own a gun. I used to live in a Buckhead apartment, which was gated, and number instances occurred of break-ins where the door was kicked in. I didn’t ever want to be on the losing end of that and I bought a gun to provide protection for my then fiance, and now wife. We have since been able to save enough money and move into a home in a nice quiet street in DeKalb.

I still own the gun. I keep it loaded and in easily accessible. I also have a home security system, so I know if its just me and my wife in the middle of the night and that alarm goes off to go to a respective spot with the gun and prepare for an ambush. I do not have any children, but the scenario you brought up is one I know I am going to realistically face some day when I do have children.

When I have a child some day I am going to tell him/her that there is a gun in the house, why there is a gun in the house, why we bought a gun, what the gun is used for and what the gun is not used for. I also want them to know what can go wrong if you touch / mishandle a gun (we have a family friend that was 12 when his friend was showing a group of boys his father’s gun thinking it was unloaded, but not realizing there was a gun in the camber and shot himself dead in the head by accident).

I’ve put alot of thought into this and here are my conclusions. Having a gun in the house is only effective if it is accessible. If I hear an alarm in the middle of the night, I don’t want to have my heart beating a million beats per minute scrambling to think of a combination. ** I have seen one compromise in biometrics, where you can have a fully loaded gun, quickly accessible by just putting your finger over a reader. That removes alot of the risk that anti-gun proponents have while giving the access that strict 2nd amendment advocates fight for.

That said, there is likely a person in his family that he gained access to this gun from. If true, he also used this gun in a premeditated way. I fully place blame on the source of this gun. I fully believe that the person that is the owner of this gun should face jail time and again, I hope that such a potential punishment would be ingrained into every gun owner to 1) have the proper conversation with their children / family and 2) find a means that allows only authorized and responsible users of this gun access when needed. If this story is true, the boy knew how to unload a gun. You don’t learn that from watching TV, because most actors don’t know how to use a gun and their handling of a gun on the TV is often inaccurate.

Sadly playing devils advocate, you have to assume that at 12 year old could be left home alone. In that case, you have the same issues of safety / protection (citing my original home invasion issue, which is ALOT more popular in Atlanta than it was in New England where I am from).

The best thing I’ve seen for children and guns was about a year ago when my wife and I were taking a new gun owner class. There was a family there (husband, wife 15 y/o daughter, 13 y/o son). He brought his family to learn about how guns work, the benefits and the dangers. Each of them that day shot the gun after being individually worked with by the instructor. I think that’s best way to deal with guns in the home because it made that family talk out its ‘plan’ if their home was broken into and someone was home. It also showed them the damage, force that a gun has when you fire it and it instructed them on the real scenarios and consequences inappropriately firing a gun can have because of discussions of the law were reviewed. Sadly I know this family was the exception and not the rule.

Saying that no guns in homes with kids is not the answer not only in Georgia, but any state. You leave your entire family to risk. Criminals will always have guns and short of building hidden rooms and passages to hide in I don’t think its realistic to say that the police will get there in time to save the day. When the difference of life or death, even with a security system can occur in under a minute, having the police arrive in even 5 minutes is too late. This story isn’t a “guns are bad” story, but regardless of the outcome, this is a story of a “failed family gun plan,” which will impact the child and likely (and if true hopefully) additional family members. This shouldn’t be an ah-ha moment for anti-gun folks, rather it should be a VERY BIG wake up call to gun owners with children to review their emergency plan and gun storage for their home.

lets call a spade a spade

November 19th, 2009
5:55 pm

would anyone care to guess the demographics of the boy who brought the gun to class???

Maureen Downey

November 19th, 2009
6:00 pm

Sorry Spade, Given that is an 85 percent white school, I am going to bet he’s white. Plenty of white kids bring guns to school. In fact, in all the mass school shootings, the shooters were white kids.
Maureen

Philosopher

November 19th, 2009
6:03 pm

Maureen: As you might remember, on Tuesday, I spoke very positively about the manner in which the school administration handled this situation. At the time, I thought this was a mere act of stupidity on the student’s part and that the gun was not loaded. The news reports reflected this, as well. Had it been reported at the time that “a child pointed a loaded gun at another student, the situation was controlled immediately, the child is in custody and all the children are safe. Counseling is available for any who need it and we will keep you informed as much as we are allowed to do so”, I still would have felt the same way. However, I now have some very serious concerns. How is it that at the time of Tuesday’s letter writing, or even yesterday, anytime before I read it on this blog, the administration did not know that it was, indeed, a very serious problem? How is it that it only later became known that the gun was pointed at a student? Did this heroic girl not say, “he pointed a gun at me and told me to give him my gum.”? This is not how the incident was reported and it very much colors how I feel about its handling. At that time, we were led to believe that no one had been in any immediate danger…a far cry from a gun pointed at a classmate and terroristic threats made. While I understand the legal tightrope to be walked and I don’t care to hear all the details, a realistic depiction of the severity of the situation is a minimum requirement for trust in the people responsible for my child’s safety during the day. I hope that there are answers that will mend the breach of trust …and I hope this is not just “spin city” gone wrong.

DeKalb Conservative

November 19th, 2009
6:07 pm

@ lets call a spade a spade

Not that it should matter, but he’s probably white and if we’re going to profile along demographics, probably not an honor student, or star athlete.

Race doesn’t matter here, unless its easier for a person to get over a death if the shooter would have been of one race over another. If that’s the case, then a person’s priorities are in the wrong place.

trying hard to be patient

November 19th, 2009
6:28 pm

Why is there zero tolerance(Georgia State Law) and yet there were guns used in (3)three performances at the 5AAAAA State One-Act Competition last weekend?

It is specifically stated in the GHSA One-Act rules and regulations: 8. No flame of any type can be used, including candles. Real weapons of any kind, such as a sword or knife, etc., cannot be used. Use of simulated weapons cannot be in violation of any local board of education policy of the participating school or the host site. Violation of this rule will result in disqualification (zero tolerance rule).

Philosopher

November 19th, 2009
6:46 pm

Dekalb conservative: – I and many other healthcare providers will tell you how many times the parents of a child gunshot victim arrived with a story matching yours…we taught them, they understood…what went wrong?? It’s so sad. One of the most important bits of information that most parents are missing, that is most apparent in gun accidents and teenage car accidents is that you can talk until you are blue in the face but until the age of 20-23, most children and young people do not have a sense of mortality…they can talk to you about death but it is not internalized, it just isn’t there. They don’t truly believe they will die and they act accordingly. One of my first patients was a 4 year old whose adoring big brother was mimicking his father and trying to teach his little brother how to properly handle a gun…one of too many such terrible tragedies! We all have to make our choices but we just should do it with all the facts.

Philosopher

November 19th, 2009
7:47 pm

Dekalb conservative: – I and many other healthcare providers can tell you of many times that the parents of a child gunshot victim arrived with a story matching yours…we taught them, they understood…what went wrong?? It’s so sad. One of the most important bits of information that most parents are missing, something that is most apparent in gun accidents and teenage car accidents, is that you can talk until you are blue in the face, but until the age of 20-23, most children and young people do not have a sense of mortality…they can talk to you about death but it is not internalized, it just isn’t there. They don’t truly believe they will die and they act accordingly. One of my first patients was a 4 year old whose adoring big brother was mimicking his father and trying to teach his little brother how to properly handle a gun…one of too many such terrible tragedies! We all have to make our choices but we just should do it in full awareness of the facts and the risks.

Dean Rusk Mom

November 20th, 2009
3:11 am

My child attends this school. The letter that came home, originally, did not indicate that ANYONE had been “held at gun point”. To find out that this is far more serious than what was originally portrayed to us as parents is just gut wrenching. We have a right to know what is going on at all times in the school where our children are every single solitary day!! I have had my doubts about this school, not for these reasons, but for so many others and this incident has driven me to consider pulling my child out of this middle school altogether!! As far as the “demographic” of the child with the gun, I am certain that he is a white child. For anyone to assume that just because a child brought a gun to school that they “have to be african american” is just absurd. It doesn’t matter what “demographic” this child is from, it just matters that someone had darn well be asking his parents where they were on this deal!!!!! How is it that they have raised a 12 year old child to be so much of a bully that he actually brought a gun into the school and robbed an innocent little girl of her bubble gum? Bullying at this school has been out of control for a long time and there is nothing done about it. I have spoken, until I am blue in the face, with some of the teachers and principals about incidents that have occured with my child. You can’t get through to these people. I am hoping that they will take the bull by the horns and let us parents know the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.

Dean Rusk Mom

November 20th, 2009
3:16 am

I would also like to add that after the gun incident, which was on Tuesday, that yesterday another child who is in the 8th grade was found with Marijuana. According to what I have been told this child only received a 4 day in school suspension!! Seriously? Isn’t there some sort of alternative school for children who bring drugs to school? What happened to no tolerance?

Pjj3

November 20th, 2009
6:12 am

You will never get the “truth” from public school administrators. Too much $$$ is at stake if they report the “truth” of what really happens behind the locked doors of our taxpayer funded education institutions. Those in the know can look at the laughable incident reports to confirm this. Bravo to Maureen for helping to shine just a little more light on reality that our students face every day. And we wonder why our teens have contempt for the adults in their lives? They have a front row seat for this hypocrisy. We expect them to attend class and do their best to prepare for a successful life?? They watch the doors close and the chaos and mayhem begin. We are simply failing the next generation. Visit a public high school and sit in the front office for the half hour leading up to the first bell. Report back.

Joy in Teaching

November 20th, 2009
7:44 am

I’m surprised that the teacher in whose class this happened wasn’t suspended for 20 days for allowing it to happen.

Just saying.

Philosopher

November 20th, 2009
8:34 am

Joy in Teaching: As it appears you are a teacher, I am surprised at your quick judgement of this teacher without any facts. My guess is that this teacher is at this point devastated! It is quite easy for a teacher to be in a corner of a room, helping an individual student with a difficult problem and have this happen quietly without his/her awareness until he/she is notified of it. While I cerrtainly do not know the details in this case, you certainly do not know them either. Let’s let the people who DO know the facts do the judging. Accusations against innocent people can be emotionally, professionally and permanently damging.

DeKalb Conservative

November 20th, 2009
8:42 am

@ Philosopher

Joy in Teaching is likely referencing is the Clayton County incident earlier this week where a 20 year old former student / volunteer for a drama production and a 17 year old current student were caught having ’sexy time’ in a classroom after the the after school activity let out. The drama teacher was suspended for 20 days w/o pay.

Philosopher

November 20th, 2009
9:22 am

While I believe that the Clayton teacher’s discipline was excessive at best…the difference here is that he did, indeed, break a rule concerning leaving students alone in his classroom. The suggestion that this DRMS teacher be suspended (even in sarcastic jest) will lead readers who do not have information to the contrary to believe that the DRMS teacher also did something wrong…Some of the readers here, myself included, may know this teacher. This was a potentially deadly incident…no teacher deserves to have his/her students and family wondering (without just cause) if there was inappropriate response/ behavior in such a situation.

DeKalb Conservative

November 20th, 2009
9:32 am

@ Philosopher

What did the teacher do wrong in the gun case? I might be reading this wrong, but I don’t see the teacher in this setting as being wrong in any way.

DeKalb Conservative

November 20th, 2009
9:33 am

@ Philosopher

I realize its easy to say as a healthcare provider that all guns are evil, kids are dumb, etc. That said, what the opinion be if a 12 year old was home, a methed up hillbilly broke into the house and the 12 year shot the hillbilly right between the eyes. Just like gun accidents happen with children, those stories happen too.

Bottom line, if you remove the guns from homes with children, Nancy Grace’s show is going to need to be extended to two hours every night because there will be so many child kidnappings, rapes and murders she won’t be able to keep up.

Philosopher

November 20th, 2009
9:38 am

MY point exactly- no wrong is known- was reponding to Joy in Teaching’s flippant suggestion that this teacher be suspended. Too serious a situation to even joke about.

AnonymousTeacher

November 20th, 2009
9:43 am

Philosopher…I am almost certain that Joy was being facetious in her comment. I did not read it as an affront to the Dean Rusk teacher involved.

DeKalb Conservative

November 20th, 2009
9:58 am

Makes sense. If anything there sound be a big push to celebrate this teacher.

Philosopher

November 20th, 2009
10:25 am

Here’s a simpler version. A teacher in Clayton broke a rule by leaving students in his class and they had sex…the teacher was suspended. A student pointed a gun at a student at another school, and a blogger joked that the teacher should be suspended. Implication: the gun incident teacher acted inappropriately, also. My point..careless jokes can have lasting repurcussions. Nobody involved in the gun incident finds it funny and even hinting at wrong-doing on the teacher’s fault implies knowledge of some wrong-doing. I just said think before you write…innocence it very important to the innocent…but nearly impossible to prove once rumors have spread. Also, I’d rather eat crow later if the teacher is culpable than be party to destroying the reputation of an innocent one!

mystery poster

November 20th, 2009
11:58 am

When I was in high school, there was an extra-curricular rifle club. There are photos of students shooting in the yearbook, and on club day kids would bring their guns to school.

How times have changed.

BlackGirl

November 20th, 2009
12:11 pm

@Philosopher, I can assure you Joy was using being sarcastic. I understood what she meant completely. I don’t know how you took it any differently.

BlackGirl

November 20th, 2009
12:11 pm

Forgive me, I meant being, not using being!

Sarah

November 20th, 2009
2:08 pm

Someone’s panties are in a wad.

majii

November 20th, 2009
4:58 pm

As a retired educator, I can tell you that you’d be surprised at how a lot of things at schools are covered up. Why? I don’t know the exact reason, but I do know the decision usually comes from the head administrator and/or the BOE. An amazing thing is that many crimes committed on college campuses also get swept under the rug in the interest of protecting the reputation of the colleges. I would advise parents of any student(s) in any school/college to demand to know what is actually going on at the institution. Attend BOE meetings and ask questions, make impromptu visits to the campus(es), schedule meetings with school/college administrators, and don’t back down. These institutions owe their stakeholders answers to these and other issues.

A 8th grade Student at DRMS

November 20th, 2009
8:10 pm

Our school is not that bad. This is the first time in years, if every a kid has brought a gun to school. I not understand why he did, you’re just going to get in trouble and showing it of to people is stupid. But bring the gun was even dumber.

Sarge

November 21st, 2009
12:20 am

8th Grader: Thank you for your thoughts. How would you go about helping your friends; your classmates to think about some of these issues before doing something which might result in someone getting hurt. I would assume you have a student government body in your class. Maybe you could bring this topic up with the student leaders and your teachers.

My Opinion

November 21st, 2009
4:37 pm

Why does the demographic of the child matter? It could have been a purple child with a great home life and it doesn’t matter because it was still breaking the law.
The Admin at DRMS is wonderful! They handled the situation quickly. The teachers at DRMS are also very good at what they do, and the teachers of this specific child are some of the best in the school, and I know that for a fact!
I wish parents would stop blaming everything on the school and take responsibility for their own childs actions.

Pissed off parent of the girl sitting next to him in math class

November 22nd, 2009
5:28 am

first of all, the letter that was sent home tues. did not inform me my daughter was sitting next to the boy in 2nd period math (he was caught in 3rd period) infact, the letter didnt even say what grade he was in. it was very vague. my daughter informed me from her cell phone wed. that the police told her he was sitting next to her in math with the gun and bullets BEFORE I WAS INFORMED. and she was questioned by the police before the school informed me she had been questioned.. i am amazed that i have not heard one other parent bothered by the fact the police questioned our children without asking permission. it is against ga state law to question children without a parents knowledge or consent, as they did wed. that was plenty of time to inform the parents of the kids that had direct contact with the boy. my daughter had no knowledge of the gun, and i was informed she “was under no suspicion” i would still prefer to be present. my daughter was scared enough just knowing the boy had a gun and bullets on his person sitting next to her for an hour that day.it is my right as her parent to be there. she needed me she was so frightened. for the record – the boy did not “hold up” the girl for bubble gum. the poor girl that told has not been back to class and has the parents have informed the school they are moving. and not that it matters, but by the way the boy was Hispanic.

Jaime

November 25th, 2009
12:04 am

i dont belive that this kid would say give a piece of gum or i will kill im mean human life for GUM!!!!No body in this world would be that desperite for gum they would be smart enough to ask for sum or steal it im not saying stealing iz a good thing cause it is not but just saying he would be better off stealing it

kid in that class

November 25th, 2009
12:13 am

he iz my friend and i didnt c anything or hear any thing about killing for gum or c the pistol so i belive he didnt point the gun at the girl i think he only told her bout it

Juana Padron

September 10th, 2010
10:46 pm

That is not what happend i was there for the whole intire thing he didnt point the gun at the girl he just asked for a peice of gum