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5 - Gun brought to school

A Hickory Creek Elementary School student brought a loaded firearm to school on the morning of Oct. 17 after his mother allegedly put it in his backpack.

According to District Attorney General Chris Stanford, Kristen Holland, 31, recklessly placed a loaded firearm in her child’s backpack on Sunday, Oct. 16. School staff unknowingly assisted the child by carrying the backpack, containing a loaded firearm, into the school at approximately 7:45 a.m. on Monday, Oct 17.

School personnel subsequently noticed the firearm in the child’s backpack and immediately reported the situation to the Warren County Sheriff’s Department. The firearm was secured by law enforcement and they discovered the firearm was loaded with 15 rounds of ammunition. Further investigation revealed this was an isolated incident that did not pose a threat of further harm to the public.

Stanford charged Holland with reckless endangerment with a deadly weapon.

“As a result of the investigation, the 31st Judicial District Attorney General’s Office made the decision to charge Kristen Holland with reckless endangerment with a deadly weapon in violation of Tennessee Code Annotated § 39-13-103(b)(2),” said Stanford. “This office fully supports our Constitutional right to bear arms under the Second Amendment, but for the safety of everyone, the District Attorney’s Office would ask the citizens of Warren and Van Buren Counties to keep your guns away from young children and store them in a safe place. We will continue to prosecute any person who puts lives in danger with reckless or intentional criminal behavior involving deadly weapons.”

Once the situation was under control, the school called parents in an attempt to prevent any concerns. The call informed parents that a situation occurred on campus and that everyone was safe and no one was in danger. It also stated that law enforcement and school officials were investigating an issue of concern and were resolving that issue and the school day would continue as normal. The lack of details in the call caused many parents to worry.

“Events like these are never good, but we felt like notifying our staff and parents was the right thing to do,” said Director of Schools Dr. Grant Swallows. “First of all, we hope situations like these never occur, but if they do, we want to build trust with our families and community by making them aware of what is going on and reassuring them of safety. I can’t say enough how proud I am of our employees and law enforcement officials that kept everyone safe with little disruption to the day.”

Swallows also praised the quick actions of both law enforcement and school officials.

“I want to praise the work of our school employees and school resource officer in a situation where their training and preparation led them to respond flawlessly,” said Swallows. “We believe this was an isolated event with no intent to harm, but regardless, we take all instances with extreme and abundant caution. Because of the work of our staff and the Warren County Sheriff’s Department, our students were never in danger and the situation was resolved quickly.”

The school day continued without interruption and the school never issued a lockdown. 

Kristen Holland was arraigned Nov. 1, and on Dec. 13, she was given a court date of Feb. 14, 2023.