Bus drivers concerned about safety after student brings gun to school

By: Kate Tillotson Email
By: Kate Tillotson Email

January 25, 2007

HARLEM, Ga.---Police arrested a seventh grade student at Harlem Middle School today after finding a handgun he'd brought inside and was apparently showing off.

It wasn't loaded and no one was hurt, but there are lots of questions as to how this could have happened.

More than 400 students go to Harlem Middle School, and a gun, loaded or not, poses a huge threat to their well-being.

"Some kids could have one, you don't know," said Columbia County school bus driver Sarah McNair.

"The thing that happened at Columbine High," said bus driver Daryll Warthen. "That's just another possibility that something could happen right here in Columbia County. Right here in our backyards."

A sign posted on the front door of the gymnasium clearly states what a weapon is: any pistol or revolver, any knife with a blade of three or more inches, and any straight-edge razor, bat, nun chuck, or chain.

Student safety extends into the streets as well. Now, bus drivers are asking: if a student can sneak a gun into the school, what's stopping that same student from sneaking one on to the bus?

"It'd be hard to really check on us, because we have no way of putting a metal detector on our bus," McNair said.

McNair worries it's too easy for students to hide weapons.

"You could have a child with a knife or a gun and you would never know it," she said.

The superintendent's office released a statement: "Law enforcement was immediately notified and the student was taken into custody. There was no indication of any threat to students or to faculty."

It all reminds 14-year-old Paul McNair of safety drills he's done at his school, Grovetown Middle.

"We have what is called a lock down, where somebody comes into school with a gun or something, and we lock all our doors and hide in the classroom," he told News 12.

A representative from the Youth Detention Center told News 12 whenever a student brings a gun to school, they're detained, then released only if they're deemed not a threat to someone else's safety.

This particular student will also have a court appearance within the next 48 to 72 hours.

This isn't the first time schools in Harlem have had problems with guns.

In 1993, there was a deadly shooting at Harlem High School.

In 1998, a 13-year-old boy was caught at Harlem Middle School with a loaded gun, but he didn't threaten anyone.

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