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Capital High student accused of bringing gun to school

CHARLESTON, W.Va.-- A 16-year-old student at Capital High School brought a gun and several bullets to school last week, according to police and school officials.

Charleston Police Sgt. Tony Hazelett said the boy brought an unloaded 9 mm handgun and bullets in his backpack on Friday.

Someone tipped school staff and police to check the teen's backpack at about 11:45 a.m., and police later arrested the teen.

The teenager had made no prior threats and was cooperative with police, Hazelett said.

He was charged with possession of a firearm on school grounds, which is a felony.

Charleston Police are now trying to find out who owns the handgun.

Kanawha County Schools Superintendent Ron Duerring said proper disciplinary action will be taken against the student.

"Any time it's a weapon, we take that pretty seriously, and are probably looking at the maximum penalty here," Duerring said. "Of course once the incident is reported, it's the administration's responsibility to investigate and take the proper disciplinary procedures."

While schools across the state have upped security measures, with Kanawha County Schools in the process of implementing electronic doors that scan visitors ID's for past offenses, only Chandler Academy -- the county's alternative school -- is equipped with metal detectors.

Duerring said students are taught to report any potentially dangerous situation to school staff, which is what happened in the case at Capital.

"We encourage kids that if there's any kind of incident to report to administration or a teacher right away, even if they don't feel it's a threat," Duerring said. "We have a pretty good school environment<t40>...<t$> there's been enough school incidents across the nation that the kids get worried about it, too. I think they're readily stepping up to report any incidents."

Only 64 of West Virginia's more than 800 public schools had a prevention resource officer patrolling the halls in 2012, according to the West Virginia Division of Justice and Community Services. Capital High is one of them.

However, more schools have designated resource officers, whose sole purpose is to provide security. Prevention resource officers also handle mentoring and programs such as drug prevention.

Capital High Principal Clinton Giles did not return calls as of late Wednesday afternoon.

Reach Mackenzie Mays at mackenzie.mays@wvgazette.com or 304-348-4814.


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