Loaded gun found at Richmond preschool: ‘I'm hoping this situation will wake us up’

Posted at 10:13 AM, May 07, 2024
and last updated 2024-05-07 11:15:16-04

RICHMOND, Va. -- Maymont Preschool father Gregory Coley was emotional thinking about the what ifs after a staff member discovered a loaded gun in a student’s bag during Monday afternoon dismissal, according to a Richmond Public Schools (RPS) spokesperson.

“I’m just glad they found it. I'm glad it wasn't worse than that,” Coley said with tears in his eyes. “I’m hoping that this is a slap to the face to a lot of people out here regarding the relationships with their children.”

Richmond Police said they were called to the South Allen Avenue school at 2:12 p.m. Monday for a report of a firearm on campus.

A family member, Valentino Christian, 34, of Chesterfield, was charged with allowing access to firearms by children.

“The weapon was immediately reported to Care and Safety, and Richmond Police were called in. There were no injuries to students or staff,” the RPS spokesperson wrote.

Tyler Glenn’s four-year-old son attends Maymont Preschool and questioned the handling of the incident. She said parents were notified about the weapon more than two hours after the discovery.

“This was a three year old with a loaded gun in their backpack. Anyone knows a loaded gun carries weight. So the backpack should have been too heavy for the child. And again on the school's behalf, why are we no longer checking backpacks to make sure that folders are turned in, paperwork is turned in?” Glenn asked.

On Tuesday, a RPS spokesperson addressed the time between finding the gun and notifying parents.

"A message was sent to all parents at 4:12 PM notifying them of the incident and the steps that had been taken to address it safely and quickly (about 2 hours after the weapon was discovered). Ensuring the safety of all students during dismissal — and the proper reporting of the incident — was of paramount importance to school leadership at the time, and we're grateful for the quick thinking of the staff, principal, our RPS Care and Safety team, and RPD," they said in a statement.

With about two weeks left until the last day of school, Glenn suggested RPS could beef up security.

“I hate to say it, but we may need metal detectors for preschool. We may need a security team for preschool, because our top priority should always be our child's safety, whether it's at home with their parents, or it's at school with educators,” she explained.

Both Glenn and Coley said they support Maymont Preschool's principal and teachers who were forced to handle a potentially dangerous situation.

"I'm hoping this situation will wake us up," Coley said.

“Safety and security is a top priority of Richmond Public Schools, and we take incidents like this extremely seriously. We strive to build a safe, positive, and healthy culture at all our schools. We ask for parent, caregiver, and community support in promoting safe and healthy behaviors, and in reporting any concerning behaviors or reports so that we can address in a timely and safe manner,” according to the RPS statement sent to media on Monday.

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