Students arrested after gun is found

Five at Hammond High charged as juveniles in deal to sell gun, police say

`An uncommon case'

Alleged plan revealed after parent found note, gave it to school officials


October 23, 2003|By Gus G. Sentementes | Gus G. Sentementes,SUN STAFF

Five Hammond High School students who police believe were involved in a plan to sell and buy a handgun were arrested yesterday after the unloaded weapon was found inside a locker on campus, police said.

School officials began searching for the weapon after a parent found a note detailing the proposed transaction and turned it over to school administrators, police said.

The handgun was found inside a student's locker by a school official, who was helped in the investigation by a school resource officer, said police spokeswoman Sherry Llewellyn. The Howard Police Department has one officer assigned to every high school in the county, she said.

Three of the students - one who took the gun from a relative's home, and two who were going to sell it - were arrested late in the day during school hours, Llewellyn said. The other two students - the intended buyers - were arrested outside of school, she said.

All five students at the high school in Kings Contrivance village in Columbia were charged as juveniles. The pair who planned to sell the gun - both 15 years old - were charged with possession of a controlled deadly weapon on school property and with posing a threat to students for bringing a gun to school, police said.

The three other students were charged with conspiracy to possess a controlled deadly weapon on school property and posing a threat to students, police said. One student was 14, and the others were 15.

Police said they had no information that showed the students planned to use the gun in school, and they said they do not expect to file additional charges.

"This is an uncommon case for Howard County schools," Llewellyn said. So uncommon, she added, that statistics on this kind of occurrence are not tracked by Howard police.

School officials could not be reached for comment late yesterday.

Howard police released the names of the two students who planned to sell the gun yesterday afternoon because they had initially been charged as adults. But after further discussion with the state's attorney's office, police charged the students as juveniles, police said.

The Sun does not print the names of juveniles who have been charged with a crime unless they have been charged as adults.

Police said the gun was found in a book bag inside the locker of one of the students who was arrested. The gun was not loaded, and no ammunition was found, police said.

The plan was put in motion when a male student from Jessup took the gun from a relative's home, police said. He gave the gun to another student, who, along with a third male student, planned to sell the gun to two male students from North Laurel, police said.

But a parent discovered a note that had been written between the students and turned the note in to the school, Llewellyn said. The school resource officer then began investigating, with the help of school administrators, and found the gun, police said.

Joyce Pope, first vice president of the Hammond PTSA, said yesterday's incident was not a common occurrence at the school where her son is a senior and her daughter graduated two years ago. She said administrators at the school are "really on top of things" when it comes to parents' concerns.

She also praised the parent who discovered the note and turned it over to administrators.

"That's good to hear," Pope said. "That's exactly what we parents need to be doing."

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