Gun In 8-Year-Old's Backpack Accidentally Discharges On Schoolyard Of West Philadelphia Achievement Charter Elementary School: Police
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) -- A West Philadelphia elementary school went into lockdown Thursday morning after a gun in an 8-year-old's backpack went off in the schoolyard. The incident happened at West Philadelphia Achievement Charter Elementary School, at 6701 Callowhill Street, just before 9 a.m. Thursday.
School officials say a teacher heard a pop, took the student's backpack and found the gun inside. Apparently, the weapon accidentally discharged while in the student's bag in the schoolyard.
"This is not just an incident in one school, this is a problem across this country," state Sen. Anthony Williams said.
The school serves children in grades K-5.
"They're just having a hard because they've been in situations where they were exposed to gun violence," Dr. Stacy Gill-Phillips, the school's founder, said.
The school was on lockdown for about 20 minutes. Southwest detectives are handling the investigation from this point. The focus will be on how the boy got his hands on a gun and if it was from home or another student.
Police say they won't necessarily be charging an 8-year-old for having a gun, but if it belonged to his parents and is legally owned, they could face charges and have their license revoked.
Right now, the school is in the process of notifying parents. CBS3 spoke to Aaron Jackson, who rushed over to pick up his niece and nephew because their parents were a bit further away than he was.
"Everybody is not responsible. Everybody doesn't need to have a gun. Everybody isn't responsible enough to have one, especially with kids around, and this is what happens," Jackson said. "These are times we're living in and it's sad to where little kids are so easily accessible to guns. We got to do better."
The school's founder says this was an isolated incident and school remained in session for the rest of the day.
It's important to note, the child involved in this incident has not been arrested, but he was taken in for questioning and the weapon has been recovered.
According to weapons offense legislation in Pennsylvania, a child can be expelled for bringing a weapon onto a school campus.
While school administrators are planning to address the incident with parents soon, the student may have gotten the gun at his grandmother's house.
"Word has it that it was at his grandmother's house and the young man knew where the firearm was kept and maybe saw some other members of the household get it from time to time," Councilmember Curtis Jones said. "And so, he brought it to the schoolyard for I guess a show-and-tell, which could have ended tragic."
There was some frustration from parents due to delayed communication on the school's part.
"I should have gotten a call or an email or something telling me about this" parent Laurencia Duroseau said. "I should never have to find out on the news. This is crazy."
The school's founder says they followed protocol. The priority is to ensure students and staff are safe before reaching out to parents.
Looking ahead, the idea of metal detectors in the school isn't off the table.
"We're a K-5 school so you're talking 5-year-olds to around 11-year-olds," Gill-Phillips said. " So, at this time no, but it is something we could foresee in the very near future."
No one was injured when the gun went off.
For a list of gun violence resources in Philadelphia, click here.
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