Gun found in backpack at Free State High School; student arrested

photo by: Mike Yoder

Free State High School, 4700 Overland Drive

Police arrested a student at Free State High School Monday morning after a gun was found in that student’s backpack, according to police and school district officials.

“Free State High administration is working with the Lawrence Police Department to investigate a student who brought a firearm on campus in a backpack,” district spokeswoman Julie Boyle said in an email message to parents. “Based upon the prompt reporting of this concern by a student, school resource officers immediately apprehended the student and seized the weapon.”

Boyle said police had arrested and removed the student from school and that staff had notified the student’s parents.

According to Lawrence Police Sgt. Amy Rhoads, the student was taken to the Juvenile Detention Center. Rhoads said the investigation was ongoing and that no further information would be provided at this time.

The school is pursuing disciplinary action in accordance with school board policy, Boyle said.

“All Free State students and staff are safe and are being notified of this matter in their classrooms,” Boyle said.

Boyle said there was no specific threat or incident involving the weapon.

Police have been called to Free State at least two other times in recent months to investigate a shooting threat made on social media and a rumor about a gun at school.

Less than two weeks ago, on March 28, police and district officials investigated a report from a student who overheard others talking about someone “possibly having a gun at school,” but officials said that case was determined to be a rumor.

On Feb. 19, a student at Free State told school staff that a fellow student made an “indirect threat” on Snapchat about killing people. The principal described the post as “threatening a school shooting.”

That investigation led to a felony charge of criminal threat against a boy who was a Free State student at that time. He was charged and arrested in late March, and ordered by a judge at that time to remain in juvenile custody.