A student took a gun to a high school in Prince William County, Virginia, and it went off in a classroom about noon Tuesday, police said, but all students and faculty are safe.
The gun fired in an art classroom at C.D. Hylton High School when a 16-year-old boy took it out of a school bag to show other students, Prince William County police said.
The teacher heard the noise and sent the student to the office, but he denied any wrongdoing, reportedly coming up with a cover story about a balloon popping. Other students who witnessed the gunfire also refused to cooperate, police said.
But authorities were notified when the teacher noticed damage and realized a shot had been fired, police said. The bullet appears to have ricocheted, striking a paper recycling receptacle and the ceiling. The 16-year-old boy was treated at the school for a minor injury, police said, but no one else was hurt.
A school resource officer took the boy into custody, but he refused to say where the gun was, police said.
Hylton was in secure-the-building status and dismissal was delayed for several hours while police searched the building for the gun. It was hidden in another room within the art room, police said.
“News is we have the firearm, a firearm,” Prince William County Police Chief Barry Barnard said.
Students were kept in classrooms until dismissal finally began about 5 p.m.
Parents told News4 they are upset they weren't alerted to the incident for more than two hours after the shot reportedly was fired.
"The immediate message that we got was that everybody is safe, that immediately when the gun went off the gun was detained as well as the kid, and now they're saying they don't even have the gun," Jamie Bullard, a parent of a Hylton student, told News4 after learning about 4:30 p.m. that police were still searching for the gun.
“This is my worst nightmare,” parent Bethany Kelley said. “My senior has four weeks. I thought we were going to make it through safe, and we have, but it’s been nerve-wracking.”
She said her daughter’s phone doesn’t work in the school so she couldn’t contact her.
“The information coming out has just been confusing,” she said.
All afternoon and evening activities at the school are canceled, as are all away games Hylton teams were supposed to play.
The 16-year-old student was charged with possession of a firearm on school property and is being held at the juvenile detention center.