Saturday 18 November 2017

Parents who disarmed gun boy prevented tragedy - police

Police at Mueller Park Junior High after after the shooting incident (AP)
Police at Mueller Park Junior High after after the shooting incident (AP)

Police have said a mother and father who grabbed a shotgun from their son's hand after he fired a round into a classroom ceiling at his school probably prevented bloodshed by acting quickly after they discovered firearms were missing from their home.

The parents arrived shortly after the 15-year-old boy entered the classroom at Mueller Park Junior High in Bountiful, Utah. No one was injured but the blast left a hole the size of a small plate, Bountiful police chief Tom Ross said.

The boy also pointed the shotgun at his own neck, Mr Ross said.

The boy said nothing as a teacher and one of 26 pupils tried to talk him out of firing again, giving his parents a few extra seconds to arrive. His mother grabbed the gun out of his hand and his father pulled him out of the room and into a hallway, police said.

Lieutenant Dave Edwards said the father's talk with his son before he left for school and the mother's instinct that something was wrong motivated them to head to the campus after they discovered a handgun and shotgun were missing.

"Thank goodness they did not wait and went to the school to find him," Mr Edwards said.

Police believe the teenager hid the weapons and two boxes of ammunition under his long jacket as he walked to Mueller Park. He did not point the shotgun at any other pupil.

Youngsters returning to classes on Friday found hearts printed with messages such as "You are brave" and "Stand tall" on their lockers. The school pep band played in the lobby and counsellors were available to talk, said Chris Williams, a spokesman for the school district.

The pupil who talked to the boy during the shooting was his friend, Mr Williams said.

Investigators said they have yet to discover the boy's motive and were searching his phone and computer for clues.

"We really don't know the answers to the 'why' questions," Mr Edwards said, including why he chose a classroom where he did not take courses and was not close to an entrance.

The boy has been booked on suspicion of theft of a firearm and taking a weapon into a school.

Parents spent hours waiting for their children after the shooting as police searched the school to make sure it was safe.

Pupil Dan Fowers, 15, said the teenager entered minutes after class began. Students dived under their desks, as they had been taught during lockdown drills, with some screaming and crying.

After he was stopped by his parents, a teacher called 911 and calmly told a dispatcher there was a boy with a gun at the school whose parents had subdued him and no one was hurt, according to a recording of the call.

The school about 11 miles north of Salt Lake City has about 840 pupils in seventh, eighth and ninth grades.

The incident came two weeks after another Utah pupil stabbed five high school classmates and himself before he was cornered by school workers, according to police.

AP

Press Association

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