WESTERVILLE, Ohio (WCMH) – A 14-year-old boy is facing two felony juvenile charges after police say he brought a loaded gun to Westerville North High School.
According to police and school administrators, the boy’s father was concerned about is son and worried he may have had a weapon with him. So he called school officials.
“I think the biggest thing to look out with this situation is that a father knowing there would be consequences was concerned enough about the safety of his son and about the safety of the students at Westerville North that he was willing to come forward and share information,” said Westerville Police Chief Charles Chandler.
It happened around eight Wednesday morning when the student was in class. After getting the call, police say the school resource officer brought the boy to a secure area of the building and searched him. According to police a loaded small caliber handgun was found in a pocket underneath the jeans the student was wearing. He’s now charged with carrying a concealed weapon and conveyance of a firearm on school grounds.
“The family and student cooperated to a certain extent, but they have invoked their right for an attorney,” said Chief Chandler.
Police are still working to figure out how the student got the gun and who owns it. Chief Chandler also said so far investigators have not found any threats made by the boy.
“Our investigation so far has turned up no threats over social media, no kind of hit list,” he said. “We’ve been able to uncover no type of specific threats against any students or against the school.”
The school was not put on lock down at any point during the situation. Given the circumstances Chief Chandler said it was handled perfectly.
“The individual who was armed had no idea that anybody knew he was armed,” he said. “We were able to get him down there, get him out of the classroom safely. And protect everyone in the school and everyone in the classroom.”
Both school administrators and police are thankful the student’s dad made the call.
“We understand how difficult it must have been for the parent to share this information with us but clearly we are grateful he did,” said Greg Viebranz, Executive Director of Communications and Technology for the Westerville City School District. “Had we not learned about the presence of a weapon in one of our schools, the announcement we’re making this afternoon could have been entirely different.”
The district sent the following note to parents:
Dear Westerville North High School Families:
Keeping students and staff safe is among our top priorities here at Westerville North. The purpose of this letter is to ensure that you receive first-hand details about a safety matter that we addressed immediately and in a manner that ensured the safety of everyone in the building.
A parent reached out to us this morning expressing concerns about his son. One of these concerns was that his son may be in possession of a weapon. Upon hearing this, we immediately followed our protocol to remove the student from class and take him to a secure location away from other students and staff.
Upon searching the student, School Resource Officer Dross took possession of a loaded, small-caliber handgun located in the front pocket of a pair of pants the student was wearing underneath his jeans. Needless to say, the student now faces the appropriate disciplinary and legal proceedings as a result of his actions.
Those are all of the details we have and are able to share at this time. As your principal, I take the safety of our school very seriously. I truly believe that all of the time, energy and effort we have put into safety training resulted in today’s matter being resolved quickly and without incident. I would like to thank everyone involved, particularly the Westerville Police, for their professionalism and support this morning. I especially want to thank the parent who contacted us with concerns about his son. This likely was a difficult decision, but one that illustrates how important it is for everyone to say something if they have any concerns about the safety of our school, students, or staff.
As always, please feel free to contact me if you have any questions regarding this matter.