HUNTSVILLE, Ala. -- Police took a Whitesburg P-8 school student into custody Thursday morning for taking an unloaded gun onto campus, Huntsville City Schools officials said.
Whitesburg Principal Brad Scott said in a message to parents that the administration learned about the incident Wednesday night. The boy was taken into custody before school started Thursday, he said.
A few parents have told WHNT News 19 that the student brought the gun to school Wednesday. Huntsville Police and district officials have not confirmed this.
The student will be punished with the strongest penalty available to the district, Scott said. He also urged parents to check their children's backpacks each day and make sure they're only bringing items that are needed for school.
"In order for Whitesburg to remain a safe haven for children, we must all work together – parents, staff, and community members – to provide the quality environment that our children deserve," he said.
That punishment could include expulsion.
"We come down very hard on this, so yes, we would have them up to be recommended for expulsion," district communications director Kieth Ward said.
The student is also facing a misdemeanor charge for carrying a concealed weapon.
Police and district officials do not know why the child decided to bring the gun to school or if any other students are involved.
They are not releasing the student's identity because he is a minor.
Community members have had mixed reactions. Two parents talked to WHNT News 19 who didn't want to be interviewed.
One took their child out of class early because she was so upset by the news. The other was shocked this happened the first week of school.
"Shocked first of all," neighbor Cecil Graham said.
It's a reaction a lot of people are having. They can't believe this happened the first week of school. But the next feeling is concern. "Why does he have access to a weapon? His parents need to be investigated," Graham said.
How did the boy get a gun? That's a question many people are asking.
"That he would leave his house unnoticed with the firearm and felt like he could bring that to school and not suffer consequences," Whitesburg Baptist Church Music and Worship Pastor Rick Stone said.
Whitesburg Baptist Church is located across the street from the school.
"Our first response was sadness, and then concern, and of course being the church, we immediately began to pray., Stone said. "Our prayer is that there will be disciplinary action taken and needs to be, but that this student will learn a life lesson, and that there will be some kind of redemption."
Neighbors say this hits too close to home. They hope the actions the district takes will prevent something like this from happening again.
The topic was discussed at a very eventful meeting of the Huntsville Schools Board of Education on Thursday, as well as the district's potential financial issues, and the selection of a new superintendent.