It was a drill 10-year-old Brianna Malone had done before: huddle in the corner of her South Baltimore classroom with her teacher, her hands covering her head. But this time, Malone said, she heard sirens. She was scared.
“There were these two kids that brung a gun to school and one of them shot the gun,” Malone said.
No one was hurt when a gun was fired in a school bathroom Wednesday morning in South Baltimore.
Two students brought guns to Maree Garnett Farring Elementary/Middle School in Brooklyn on Wednesday, according to a statement from Baltimore City Public Schools. The students went to a restroom, where one gun was fired, the statement said.
In a letter to parents, principal Benjamin Crandall said the gun was fired while the students were playing and “the weapons were not used to threaten anyone.”
After hearing the shot, school staff went to the bathroom and found a shell casing.
The school was placed on lockdown, according to the statement, and police identified and detained the two students involved, confiscating their guns.
“We are relieved that no students were injured in this incident, and commend the students and staff of Maree Farring for following safety protocols and responding safely, quickly, and calmly to the situation,” the school system’s statement said.
After school had let out Wednesday afternoon, parents appeared to breathe a sigh of relief as they picked up children — all unharmed in the incident.
“I’m happy she’s safe,” said Ed Turner as he tightly clutched the hand of his 5-year-old daughter.
But the news had shaken him up. How did two kids get into school with guns, he wanted to know.
Many parents planned to attend a Thursday morning meeting to address concerns about safety.
“What can we do to prevent this from happening again?” asked Melissa Hopkins, 39, who has two daughters at the school. “That was very scary,” she said.
While many parents got robo calls from the school letting them know about the incident. But a few heard about it from other parents, from neighbors or by seeing it on the news — and spent a few moments terrified, wondering whether their own children had been injured in yet another school shooting.
June Gonzalez Ventura said she had just pulled up to her home when a neighbor asked her whether she had picked up her 7-year-old granddaughter. “They’re not contacting parents,” she said.
In the back seat of her car sat her granddaughter. She didn’t really know what had happened, but asked whether it was scary, she nodded her head quietly.
The Baltimore Police Department also responded to the scene to assist after the discharging was reported, but school police were handling the case, a spokeswoman for the department said.
School police and administrators deferred comment to Baltimore City Public Schools spokeswoman Edie House Foster.
A school police officer will be at the elementary/middle school as students arrive and dismiss during the rest of the week, and an officer will visit the school throughout each day, House Foster said in an email.
She said the school plans to assess security at the end of the week to determine its next steps.
“The well-being of students and staff is our [top] priority, and we monitor safety issues at all our schools on an ongoing basis to ensure that we are providing a safe and positive environment for teaching and learning,” she said in an email.
The school will provide mental health support for students and staff at the elementary school “for as long as necessary,” according to the school system’s statement.
In a statement, Baltimore Teachers Union President Marietta English said the news that two guns were brought to the school was “beyond alarming.”
"To know that our children have access to weapons, and that they brought them to school, points to my steadfast belief that guns have no place in our schools,” she said in the statement. “Whether we are discussing arming teachers and support staff, or youth bringing guns to school, the presence of an armed weapon always brings along with it fear and potential harm [t]hat steers teachers away from teaching and children from learning."
At least three loaded guns were recovered from Baltimore City schools during the 2017-18 school year. Wednesday’s incident was the only incident so far in the 2018-19 school year in which a firearm was recovered from a city school, spokeswoman House Foster said in an email.
On Wednesday afternoon, some younger students appeared to be blissfully unaware of the scare that had taken place earlier in the day.
“What happened today?” Michael Wright asked his 5-year-old son, Ethan, as the two walked out of the school building. Wright had seen the news about the shooting on his lunch break, and was upset that the school hadn’t done more to inform him.
“Nothing,” Ethan said, a smile on his face. He was more interested in showing off his Jurassic Park backpack, which bore the face of a T. rex.
“In a way it’s a good thing he doesn’t know,” Wright said.