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Student arrested after trying to take gun into Hopewell High School

As COVID cases rise, Hopewell parents concerned for safety of students
Posted at 3:15 PM, Dec 14, 2021
and last updated 2021-12-15 00:39:30-05

HOPEWELL, Va. -- A Hopewell High School student was arrested after a school resource officer intercepted a gun from them at the high school Tuesday morning.

Criminal charges are pending at this time.

In a post on Facebook, Hopewell School's Superintendent, Melody Hackney, said beginning Wednesday there will be a significant law enforcement presence at the school for the remainder of the week.

"Officers will be stationed throughout the building to monitor hall activity and exterior doorways," said Hackney. "Earlier today, we began the process of hiring temporary additional school safety officers to add to both secondary schools upon our return to school in January. Our student ID badges are in and we will be implementing this requirement in January as well."

On Tuesday, a staff member alerted administrators at the school that a student was attempting to get something that had been left outside an exterior door.

Administrators investigated and found the student left a jacket with a gun outside the door. The SRO was notified and took the gun into his possession.

"We stand committed and continue to layer strategies that support the safety of our students and staff," Hopewell Schools said in a statement.

Hopewell High School mom, Ashley Morgan, said she had received two prior emails in the past two weeks from the school regarding threats made to the school.

In fact, she said she had kept her children home Friday due to an email that went out Thursday to parents from the principal warning of social media rumors circulating about a 'riot' and 'shootings in local schools.' The principal went on to say there would be a strong police presence in the high school Friday because of it.

Morgan said on Tuesday her 17-year-old stepson, who attends Hopewell High School, was home sick.

"I'm really glad that he wasn't there today because what would’ve happened if that gun went into the school?" Morgan said. "I shouldn’t have to worry about my kids going to school. They come here to learn."

The incident comes one month after Hopewell Schools said they would be stepping up security, installing metal detectors and putting up electronic sensors and cameras on the outside doors.

That was in response to three additional threatening situations in the district, including an incident in early November where another student brought a gun to the high school.

"If what’s going on now is going to continue, they need to put more measures into place to keep our children safe," said Morgan.

She said she hoped to see even more security, metal detectors at every door, and education for students surrounding gun safety.

"Check the book bags more than you normally would check the book bags. Check them as they’re coming in, driving into the parking lot," Morgan said.

She added that she wouldn't hesitate to keep her kids home again if she felt it was unsafe.

"I will believe the school, and that they are taking every measure possible for our children, but at the same time I keep my guard up as a mother and I will take an extra step to make sure my children are taken care of and are safe," she said.

Morgan did say she was proud of Hopewell and the quick actions taken by the school Tuesday.

Hopewell Police said there was no further threat to the school, students, or the public.

Hackney said the district will hold a community Town Hall meeting on January 13, 2022 at 5:30pm to discuss safety.