'Lock up your damn guns,' Richmond mayor says after loaded gun found in 2nd grader’s backpack

Posted at 3:45 PM, Feb 22, 2024
and last updated 2024-02-22 22:30:28-05

RICHMOND, Va. -- Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney urged parents to secure their firearms after a loaded gun was found in a second grader's backpack at Oak Grove/Bellemeade Elementary School on Tuesday.

"I'm frustrated. I'm mad," Stoney said. "Because I believe that parents should... know what's in your child's bookbag when they leave your home. And when you don't, that's a problem."

Stoney said there was a "simple" way to keep kids away from guns.

"Lock up your damn guns," Stoney said. "Lock up and safely store your gun, so they'll don't get in the hands of your kids."

Oak Grove/Bellemeade Elementary School
Oak Grove/Bellemeade Elementary School

A worker at the school removed the gun from the child's backpack, according to an email obtained by CBS 6.

"Thanks to the brave peers who were not afraid to speak up, the Care and Safety Associate was able to confiscate the gun," Richmond Public Schools Chief Wellness Officer Renee Parks told the Richmond School Board in a Tuesday email. "[Richmond Police] was called and all subsequent after actions (threat assessment, CPS call, notifications to school families, etc.) are now underway."

Richmond Police confirmed officers were called to the school on Tuesday around 3 p.m. to investigate.

"Officers arrived and staff at the school reported they were made aware of a juvenile student who had been in possession of a firearm in the school," a Richmond Police spokesperson told CBS 6. "Officers recovered the firearm. There were no injuries."

Investigators, who said the incident was "under investigation," confirmed that the gun was loaded.

The email from Richmond Schools said they were gathering additional details and were "prepared to support the student and family with resources."

"I was like, 'Wait, a kid brought a gun to school?'" Elonda Jackson said. Jackson has a kindergarten student and a first grade student at the school.

"I check everything," Jackson said. "As a parent, you should want to check everything. And check you kid's backpack. Because you never know what they're taking to school. Prime example, somebody brought a gun to school. Where was the parent?"

WATCH: Loaded gun found in second grader’s backpack at Virginia school

Loaded gun found in second grader’s backpack at Virginia school

Bob Argabright, a well-known mentor in the school's community, said the area is known for being safe.

He's now asking parents to get involved with the school system, to prevent this kind of thing from painting it in a different light.

"Doesn't make any difference if you point the finger at the school system. They cannot be the teachers, the mentors, the parents, and so on. It just doesn't work that way," Argabright said. "I don't want this community to be defined by the act of one second grader. We've never had an issue at Oak Grove. Never really had an issue at this community."

Police say no charges have been filed against anyone at this time.

The school district said it's addressing possible disciplinary actions based on the student code of conduct and SCORE.

Abby Zwerner

The Shooting of Abby Zwerner

Last year, a Virginia mother was sentenced to two years in prison after her six-year-old son shot and injured his teacher in a Newport News elementary school.

Deja Taylor’s son told authorities he got his mother’s 9mm handgun by climbing onto a drawer to reach the top of a dresser, where the firearm was in his mom’s purse.

He concealed the weapon in his backpack and then his pocket before shooting his teacher, Abby Zwerner, in front of her first-grade class.

Taylor initially told investigators she had secured her gun with a trigger lock, but investigators said they never found one.

This is a developing story, so anyone with more information can email to send a tip.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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