Police Take Gun From Freshman At Falmouth High School
By: Michael C. Bailey and Christopher Kazarian
“We were really lucky.”
That was Chief Anthony J. Riello’s assessment of this morning’s arrest of a 15-year-old Falmouth High School freshman on gun possession charges. Chief Riello said the boy, who was not identified because of his age, was taken out of class around 8:30 AM and was found with a .380 Colt semi-automatic pistol in his pocket.
“I think we were very fortunate,” the chief said. “I think we averted a tragedy today. I really believe that.”
The situation began unfolding yesterday, the chief said, when two female students on a school bus overheard the suspect discussing the gun with another student. “What they heard scared them,” the chief said.
This morning the female students reported what they had heard to James Demers, assistant principal, who brought it to the attention of the Falmouth Police Department.
“The situation was dealt with promptly,” Superintendent of Schools Marc P. Dupuis said, and school officials worked cooperatively with police so that there “was no disruption to the operation of the school.”
Captain Edward A. Dunne, Patrolman Andrew Loewen, and a uniformed patrolman went to the high school and pulled the student out of class. Chief Riello said that when the suspect was asked about the gun, he admitted to having it on his person.
The chief said the boy admitted he had been carrying the gun in school “for a couple days.”
The weapon was cocked but unloaded at the time of the arrest. The firearm is comparable to a nine-millimeter handgun and has a total capacity of seven bullets—six in the magazine and one in the chamber.
Chief Riello said that the student has no criminal record.
Gun owned by parent
Over the course of the investigation, police learned that the student had acquired the gun at home after somehow obtaining the key to the weapon’s lockbox.
The suspect’s father, who is “duly licensed” to carry firearms, Chief Riello said, owned the pistol and an additional, undetermined number of firearms. All of his weapons were confiscated by police this morning along with the father’s firearms permit—all with the father’s cooperation, the chief added.
The suspect was booked on charges of possession of a firearm without an FID (firearms identification) card and possession of a firearm on school grounds. The boy was booked this morning, but as of press time police did not know if the boy was being held in custody or had been returned to his parents.
Mr. Dupuis would not delve into the possible punishment for the student. “He is out of school, and we’re looking into options,” he said.
Later today, he said, Falmouth High School Principal Joseph V. Driscoll will issue a call to parents via the district’s ConnectEd system explaining what happened. School was not dismissed early today because of this incident.
Need for school resource officer
Chief Riello said that when students return from February vacation on Monday, February 27, Patrolman Loewen, the school resource officer, will be there. The position was cut about two years ago due to budget cuts, but this morning’s incident is reason enough to restore it, the chief said.
“If the school resource officer was in school” today, the chief said, “even if he didn’t hear about this upfront, generally students will talk to the school resource officer because they have a relationship, and at the very least he would have been on-scene if something did happen.”
The investigation is ongoing, and police plan to interview several students who they believe may have also known about the student and the gun “but did not come forward about it,” Chief Riello said.
“That concerns me. That really concerns me,” he said, because, at best, the students’ silence was simply because they did not take the issue seriously and, at worst, because they were in on some larger plan that has now been foiled by the suspect’s arrest.
“We know what’s happened in other schools. We know how these incidents have been planned and we have to take a look at that,” the chief said. “Was that happening here? We don’t know, but we will investigate.”
Police plan to check the homes of these other students to verify whether there are any firearms present.
Past threats in Falmouth
Though a student possessing a firearm is unusual for the schools, police have responded to potential threats in the past.
Last May a 14-year-old girl said during a class discussion she would like to bring an AK-47 assault rifle to school “to kill all the Asians." The student later admitted she was only kidding, and police did not file any charges against her.
Two months earlier a 10-year-old girl said she was going to shoot a 10-year-old boy in her class at the Teaticket Elementary School. Police took no action against the 4th grader after the girl’s parents informed officers that she did not have access to a firearm.
Past Problems At Falmouth High School
Two years ago, two Lawrence School students filmed a video, titled “Us Shooting,” and posted it on YouTube, showing one of the youths, a 14-year-old boy, firing a .22-caliber rifle out of a bathroom window in his family’s North Falmouth home. The video has since been removed from YouTube.
At the time police took six rifles and shotguns for safekeeping with permission of the mother of one of the boys.
In 2007 three Lawrence School students were arrested for participating in a bomb threat that led to an evacuation at the school.
There was also the week in the spring of 2007 when police maintained a constant presence at the high school, prompted by a bomb threat written on a desk that read, “boom goes the bomb.” underneath was written “I’m going to blow up this school with my bomb on 4/2/07.”
That was followed by an arson at the high school when a weightlifting building and irrigation pump shed was damaged. The hysteria reached a pitch when several parents notified police that there had been rumors spread on MySpace of a potential threat of a school shooting.
Over the years police have trained for a multitude of scenarios, simulating possibilities in the Falmouth Public Schools.
Two years ago police put the high school on lockdown as part of an exercise in which officers were looking for two unknown, armed male subjects played by two male teachers.
Leave a Reply
In order to comment you need to be logged in.