A Warren County High School sophomore has been charged with assault after he 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 revealed due to his status as a juvenile, was cited on the misdemeanor count and will face 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 get on 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 and revealed a firearm.
“He flashed it as the bus was leaving the bus stop,” Denton explained.
Not knowing if the gun was real or not, students reported what they had seen 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.
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 added that 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 was old enough to know better.”
For more information, see Sunday’s edition.