Prince William County

Parents Concerned About Safety After Gun Goes Off in High School Classroom in Virginia

Parents are worried about school safety and school response after a gun discharged in a high school classroom in Prince William County, Virginia, Tuesday.

The gun went off in an art classroom at C.D. Hylton High School, in Woodbridge when a 16-year-old boy took it out of a school bag to show other students, an incident rumored to be connected to a non-fatal shooting of a 17-year-old in Dale City last week, Prince William County police said.

The shot discharged about noon but wasn't reported for about two hours.

The teacher in the classroom heard the noise and sent the student to the office, but he denied any wrongdoing. Other students who witnessed the gunfire also refused to cooperate, police said. And students who had seen the gun earlier in the day didn't say anything until after the shot was fired.

Meanwhile, Lisa Starr said, her son and other students were strolling the halls.

“They were literally walking around the school as if nothing had happened,” Starr said.

Authorities were notified when the teacher noticed damage and realized a shot had been fired, police said. A school resource officer took the boy into custody, but he refused to say where the gun was, police said, so the ordeal continued for hours.

Hylton was placed in secure-the-building status and dismissal was delayed until police found the gun hidden in another room within the art room.

Dismissal finally began about 5 p.m.

“My responsibility is to provide safety to him,” said Marta Burgess, whose son is supposed to go into kindergarten in Prince William County next year. “If the system, the school system, can’t do that, I have to take responsibility.”

She's reconsidering the future of her son's education.

“Because if the system doesn’t work for the security of my son, I’m considering homeschooling,” she said.

Starr said she offered to let her son stay home from school Wednesday.

“And he said, ‘You know, Mom, I’m going to school today. "I love my school,'" she said. "He was like, 'The teachers, the principal, the staff, they’re awesome, and I’m not going to let this deter me.’”

The 16-year-old student was charged with possession of a firearm on school property.

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