A seventh-grader at Central Junior High School has been suspended and will likely face expulsion after he brought a .22-caliber pistol to school Tuesday, school officials said.
"I think he was afraid that some older kids were going to beat him up," Central Principal Ted Juneau said. "He wanted to have it to scare them."
The school notified Lawrence police, and the 13-year-old was detained at the Northeast Kansas Regional Juvenile Detention Center. Lawrence police Sgt. Rick Nickell said the gun was loaded but would not comment about how the boy got the semi-automatic handgun.
School officials had been under the impression that the weapon was unloaded.
Supt. Al Azinger said a federal law stipulates that schools must have a policy of at least one year of expulsion for students who bring weapons to school. The student will have a chance to tell his side of the story to a hearing panel. Azinger has the authority to waive the policy, but he said the extenuating circumstances would have to be great.
"That's just one of those things you don't mess around with, from my perspective," he said.
Juneau said the student either showed the gun to some friends or told them he had it. The student did not brandish the weapon or point it at anyone, Juneau said.
Juneau and a counselor recovered the weapon after students alerted teachers, an action that Juneau praised in a morning announcement today.
"That was a real lesson that we could all feel good about," he said.
The discovery has been the subject of hallway conversations.
"Everyone I talk to is like, 'No one has a right to endanger other people at school,'" said Matt Stock, a Central seventh-grader. "It's still scary that someone can get it into the school."