A Warren County High School sophomore has been charged with assault after he reportedly flashed an airsoft gun at a bus stop prompting a lockdown of six schools around the city.
The 10th-grader, whose name has not been released due to his juvenile status, was cited on the misdemeanor count and will face a hearing before Juvenile Judge Bill Locke this week. He will also face disciplinary action through the school system, even though the incident happened off campus.
According to McMinnville Police Chief Bryan Denton, the incident happened Friday morning at a school bus stop on Bybee Branch Road. The youth reportedly walked over to talk to friends before the bus arrived even though he was not going to school that day.
When the bus arrived, the student did not board with the other students but instead started back to his nearby home. However, just as the bus was pulling away, the youth reportedly pulled back his jacket to reveal a firearm.
“He flashed it as the bus was leaving the bus stop,” Denton said.
Not knowing if the gun was real, students reported what they saw and that report was relayed to school officials and police.
When lawmen responded to the area, schools inside the city, which were just about to start for the day, were placed on lockdown as a precautionary measure. The lockdown lasted about 15 minutes.
“We always want to err on the side of caution in cases like this,” Denton said.
Added Director of Schools Bobby Cox, “Until we know it’s clear, we’re going to lock everything down. This created a lot of alarm and a lot of questions. I know there were a few upset parents because we didn’t release their children to them when they came to pick them up. But until we know what’s going on, the safest place for them is in that building. We all want the same thing. The parents want them safe and we want them safe.”
The schools locked down were Bobby Ray, West, Hickory Creek, WCMS, WCHS and Warren Academy.
The suspect was found near his home minutes later by police. During questioning he allegedly claimed he found the airsoft gun in a ditch when he walked to the bus stop to talk to his friends. He said he meant no harm by his actions.
“There’s always a heightened level of concern when it has to do with the schools, especially in today’s environment,” Denton said. “He is old enough to know better.”