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Friday, March 30, 2012

Milford elementary student caught with airsoft pistol at school Tuesday

MILFORD – School officials are looking into how and why a Heron Pond elementary school student acquired an unloaded airsoft pistol and brought it to the school Tuesday.

Superintendent of Schools Robert Suprenant said the student, who he would only identify as in one of the upper grades of the school, said school officials are treating the incident seriously and there will be “appropriate consequences” for the student.

The school serves students in grades two through five.

“There is still some investigating being done,” Suprenant said.

Administrators are “following all protocols” that have been set up to deal with a situation in which firearms are brought to a school, he said.

The student’s parents are “very involved” in the ongoing assessment, he said.

School officials learned of the pistol after students notified a teacher.

Milford police were contacted “once we had a handle” on the situation, said Suprenant, and administrators have had subsequent conversations with police.

Airsoft guns are replica firearms that fire plastic pellets, also known as BBs, by way of compressed gas or electric and/or spring-driven pistons and are usually used for recreation and are considered non-lethal.

Suprenant said the gun was spring-driven and could harm a person.

Parents of the other students in the class were notified of the incident Wednesday afternoon, he said, Principal Peter Bonaccorsi was notifying the rest of the parents Thursday.

A student bringing a weapon to a Milford school is uncommon but it has happened in the past, he said.

Bonaccorsi said the airsoft pistol did not appear to be a real gun, because it was clear plastic and you ”could see the spring-loaded mechanism” inside.

He said this was the first incident in which a gun was brought to school in his 20 years as a Milford elementary school principal.

In recent years, police officers in Texas, California, Maryland, Florida and elsewhere have shot children and adults armed with what they believed were handguns but that were determined later to be BB guns or other types of air pistols, according to a recent story in the New York Times. That story reported the death of a Brownsville, Tex. eighth grader who was shot and killed by police while he was holding pellet gun.

The story also reported that the “gun replicas have killed or injured thousands of children around the country in cases in which the victims were accidentally shot by relatives or friends.”

Kathy Cleveland can be reached at 673-3100, ext. 304, or kcleveland@cabinet.com.