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Officials: Elementary student brought loaded gun to school in Lancaster County

Updated: Jun. 8, 2021 at 7:22 PM EDT
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LANCASTER COUNTY, S.C. (WBTV) - Officials say an elementary student brought a loaded gun to school in Lancaster County.

Lancaster County Schools Director of School Safety and Transportation Bryan Vaughn confirmed a student brought a loaded gun to Erwin Elementary School.

The Lancaster County Schools District says the student apparently saw it while visiting the family friend. Vaughn says the child waited a few hours, then when no one was looking apparently grabbed the loaded pistol and hid it. They did not find out about it until after the student’s parents came to the school to alert them.

School parents have been notified.

“The most important thing is we’re thankful the parent had the forefront to bring it to our attention quickly,” Vaughn said.

The students at Erwin Elementary School played Wednesday without a care in the world, but some of their parents are still on edge.

”I was scared!” says Sameria Gellespie, a parent at the school.

She says her heart dropped when she got the voicemail from her daughter’s school. It said “a pistol was discovered in the student’s possession.”

”You have a school get locked down because a strange person was there, but you don’t lock it down when a gun is there? I was scared as a parent because there’s so many what ifs,” says Gellespie.

To make matters worse in her eyes, Gellespie says she did not get that voice message until hours after the incident happened.

”I can’t get a reassurance that it’s being handled if I don’t get a call until two hours after school is over,” she says.

”As soon as we got the child the threat vanished,” says Vaughn.

Vaughn says he is not taking this incident lightly. He says the principal and the school resource officer investigated and a loaded pistol was confiscated from the student. The weapon was confiscated by law enforcement, and the student has been removed from school pending a recommendation for expulsion per Lancaster County School Board policy.

Officials say the gun was in the student’s pants, and there was no indication that he had it with intent to harm anyone. The school system believes he had the gun for maybe the last 12 hours before school started.

Vaughn wants parents to know they did not call until school was out because the situation had been taken care of.

”If it would have been an active situation parents would have absolutely been notified. But to do it in this scenario, it would have probably been more disruptive,” he says.

Some parents went further to question how a loaded gun would get into the school in the first place. Some questioned if the elementary schools should have metal detectors and security like middle and high schools.

”I don’t think parents want schools to be turned into penitentiaries and jails,” he says. “So with that there’s a balance.”

As far as any safety-oriented changes coming to the school, that is something Vaughn says they are always evaluating, but for Gelliespie, this incident shows her there is room for improvement.

”At this point we’re not going to make any knee jerk reactions,” Vaughn says.

”I would appreciate them to be a little bit more courteous of the parents. Because you have parents that care I know I care about my babies,” says Gelliespie.

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