Handgun found in student’s backpack at Hazel Green High School, 1 in custody

MADISON COUNTY, Ala. -- According to a statement Madison County school officials sent WHNT News 19, a student is in custody after a handgun was recovered from their backpack Wednesday.

The handgun was discovered after the administration says it received a report that a student from Hazel Green High School brought a weapon to school. The School Resource Officer from the Madison County Sheriff's Office and administrators located the student and took possession of the handgun before taking the student into custody.

Madison County Schools add that providing a safe environment for student learning is their number one priority.

The Madison County Sheriff's Office is now handling this issue.

Sheriff Blake Dorning said through a statement that the deputies were notified about the handgun at 11:30 a.m.

The student is a 17-year-old male, deputies say, who has since been arrested and taken to the Neaves/Davis Juvenile detention facility.

This is the second time a student has been taken into custody for bringing a gun to school. WHNT News 19 reported on a gun found at the same school last week, which had parents wondering if it could happen again.

Parents' Reaction

We heard from multiple parents by email, and through social media, about the incident. Some noted that they were concerned, and others wanted to bring it to our attention.

Last week, WHNT News 19 talked to Faith Owens who told us, "If a gun can walk in today, why can't a gun walk in tomorrow?"

We met with Owens again Wednesday. This time, she was worried-- and angry too.

"I'm not happy that here we are, a week from the past occurrence, and we have another gun in my daughter's school," stated Owens. "I'm past angry. Now I want results. And if you [the school system] can not give them to me, I will find a way to address this issue."

Owens added, "I am trusting this administration to take care of my child when I walk in the door. I don't want to worry about a gun."

She is now calling for additional security measures.

She is also upset that she says school officials and the superintendent's office have not returned her calls about this.

"I'm not just a parent. I am a citizen. I am telling you that I am not happy with your leadership. I am not happy that you didn't address this," she explained. "I have not had any feedback from the principal or assistant principal. I have not had any feedback from the superintendent's office."

She said her daughter has told her she does not want to go to school on Thursday.

"Am I going to break the law and not send her to school? No. Am I going to be scared to death? Yes. Am I going to pray? I do, always," she noted.

Owens is calling on other parents to speak up, too.

"Where are the other parents? Why aren't you speaking up? Why aren't you addressing this? Why aren't you asking for action?" she implored. "These are our babies, and I'm not going to stand by. I'm not going to stand by."

School Board Response

Once we spoke with Owens and heard from the other parents, we asked the Superintendent's office for more comments (outside of the above statement) about the district's next steps in addressing the recurring gun incidents. We also contacted the principal's office at Hazel Green High School. We did not hear back on either request as of 10:00 p.m. Wednesday.

We also took this issue to Nathan Curry, school board member who represents Hazel Green and its surrounding communities in District 1.

"I understand their concern. As a parent-- I have concerns," he explained. "I think about that for my kids and all the kids in the district. I just want the parents to know that the Madison County School Board takes this very seriously."

He added, "I think our policies worked in this instance. Our administrators, our SRO's, did exactly what they were trained to do. We go through these processes. We have a school safety plan."

But he acknowledges a need for review, and said as a board member he will be asking questions and looking into how this could happen at Hazel Green High.

"Plans are always good, but they also need to be considered and say, 'What can we improve upon in that plan?' We definitely need to have that conversation and see what we can do," he stated.