School Defends Actions Regarding 10-Year-Old With Toy Gun

Wednesday, Mar 13, 2013  |  Updated 8:15 AM EDT
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Many community members demanded to know why a 10-year-old was arrested over a toy gun during a Tuesday night meeting, but school leaders and police defended their actions.

Jackie Bensen

Many community members demanded to know why a 10-year-old was arrested over a toy gun during a Tuesday night meeting, but school leaders and police defended their actions.

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Many who attended a community meeting in Alexandria say they aren't happy with the answers they received about why a 10-year-old boy was arrested for possession of a toy gun.

But Superintendent Morton Sherman defended the school's decision to contact authorities.

"[It's] something you don't like hearing, but if there is a question of a gun, if there is any innuendo of a gun, that's a police matter," Sherman said.

The boy was taken into custody Feb. 4 by Alexandria police a day after another student had seen what looked like a gun in his backpack while on the school bus. She told her mother, who then called the principal.

When the boy was arrested at Douglas MacArthur Elementary, the orange-tipped gun -- a toy from a dollar store -- was still in his backpack. Alexandria police brought him to juvenile detention, where he was fingerprinted and charged with brandishing a weapon.

During Tuesday night's meeting, Sherman was asked what he would do to prevent children from being treated like that again -- and was met with stunned silence when he answered, reported News4's Jackie Bensen.

"Given the credible threat that was implicated in an email and some information that we received from a parent, the referral should be made to the police," Sherman said. "And so I'm not sure, at least from the school point of view, that there was an injustice.

The meeting, held at the Charles Houston Recreation Center, was sponsored by the Alexandria chapter of the NAACP. Audience members' questions were submitted on index cards, but -- citing concerns about the student's privacy -- officials would not address the persistent rumor that the 10-year-old was handcuffed by police.

His mother told News4 that he was not.

Charges against the boy have been dismissed, but the incident has caused great concern. Many left the meeting feeling frustrated, Bensen reported.

"It was disappointing," said one attendee.

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