By Mary Gail Hare and Alison Knezevich, The Baltimore Sun
7:49 PM EST, November 28, 2012
A Holabird Middle School student was disciplined after an inoperable starter pistol was found in his locker Wednesday, Baltimore County schools officials said.
The Dundalk school sent a letter home with students about the discovery of the gun, and an investigation involving county police indicated that the student did not plan to threaten or hurt anyone, schools spokesman Charles Herndon said. A starter pistol shoots blank shells or caps and is typically used at sporting events.
"Possession of such a device is still a serious offense, however, and the school has taken appropriate disciplinary action," the letter signed by Principal Julie Dellone states.
Crystal Chamberlain, president of the school's Parent Teacher Student Association, said she was pleased that the school swiftly notified parents of the incident.
"I'm glad that they sent a letter home because the biggest problem that happens is kids will come home and say something, and the parents are in the dark," she said.
The incident came in the same week that a fight between two Perry Hall High School students led to assault charges for one student, increased police presence at the school Wednesday and renewed concerns about violence on that campus, which is still coping with the effects of a shooting on the first day of classes this year.
Baltimore County police were called to the school Monday, after staff quelled a fight between two male students, one of whom used brass knuckles.
"The fight was immediately broken up by the school resources officer and the faculty," said Elise Armacost, police spokeswoman.
The fight occurred in a hallway outside the school cafeteria shortly after the lunch hour. A 14-year-old student, who brought the metal weapon into the building, has been charged as a juvenile, with second-degree assault. A 17-year-old student received minor injuries in the incident, police said. The school has also taken disciplinary action, officials said.
"The principal has investigated the incident and has taken appropriate disciplinary action that is consistent with our code," Herndon said.
He would not say whether either student had been suspended.
The incident has raised concerns among parents and students and may have sparked rumors circulating on social media that another violent event might occur on the campus Wednesday, he said.
"Rumors start and take on a life of their own," Herndon said. "But we have no evidence of any problems."
County Councilman David Marks, whose district includes Perry Hall High, said he had been hearing from parents Wednesday morning "about rumors of Facebook postings and threats." Parents are "getting frustrated" about incidents such as the one involving brass knuckles, he said.
"This is a good school," said Marks, a Perry Hall Republican. "And I wish certain parents were a little more responsible in regulating what their children are doing and the types of things they're bringing to school."
He said he hopes the student who brought the brass knuckles to school "is held accountable to the fullest extent of the law."
"Quite frankly, Perry Hall does not need this, and it reflects poorly on a school that generally is one of the best in Baltimore County," Marks said of the fight.
The school asked for and received additional police presence Wednesday, although, as of dismissal, there were no calls for additional police service, Armacost said.
School resource officers were recently outfitted with metal-detecting wands, but those are used only if there is a reasonable suspicion that a student is carrying a weapon, she said.
On Aug. 24, a 15-year-old student allegedly critically wounded a 17-year-old schoolmate with a shotgun brought into the cafeteria. Robert W. Gladden Jr. faces attempted-murder and other charges and remains in custody. The victim, Daniel Borowy, spent several weeks at University of Maryland Shock Trauma Center and continues to recover.
Due to incorrect information provided to The Sun, a previous version of this article was posted with errors, including the day of the incident and the use of brass knuckles in the fight.
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