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Superintendent brings gun to school
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SAVANNAH, Tenn. (AP) — The superintendent of the Hardin County Schools is on trial, charged with bringing a handgun into a school.

The criminal trial of John Thomas began Monday.

The Jackson Sun reported special prosecutor Mike Bottoms told jurors Thomas knowingly carried the holstered gun into Hardin County Middle School last November with the intent to go armed. He pointed out that state law allows only police officers to be armed at schools.

"In his own words, he (Thomas) tells people that he carries the weapon for the protection of himself, staff and the students in case something happens," Bottoms said.

Defense attorney Curtis Hopper countered, saying his client did not pose a threat.

"There is no evidence that he intended to harm anyone," Hopper said.

Hopper pointed out that the school's resource officer did not arrest Thomas or take his gun and said that indicated Thomas had no intention of using the gun.

Resource Officer Stacy Moore testified Monday, saying he saw the pistol on Thomas' hip and reported it to the principal, Steve Haffley.

On the stand, Haffley testified that he asked Thomas about the gun.

"I asked him was he supposed to be doing that," Haffley said. "He (Thomas) said I think they could give me a ticket or something."

A jury of six men and six women is hearing the case.

It is being prosecuted by 22nd Judicial District Attorney Mike Bottoms.

Local prosecutor Hansel McCadams declined to seek charges against Thomas. The defense presented McCadams and Hardin County Sheriff Sammy Davidson as witnesses on Monday because both declined to press criminal charges against Thomas.

An indictment was obtained after county resident Jerry Fowler took the case to the grand jury himself.

He testified Monday about his motivation.

"My grandson attends that middle school, there was a lack of action on the officer's behalf, the sheriff made no arrest and the district attorney wouldn't prosecute," Fowler said. "I've known students who violated the zero-tolerance policy who weren't given a chance to explain. No person should be above the law."

The trial continued Tuesday.