Island boy, 13, expelled after bringing gun, bullet to school

A 13-year-old student who brought a handgun to Oak Harbor Middle School was arrested in a classroom Monday morning, according to Oak Harbor Police Capt. Rick Wallace.

Police found a .40-caliber pistol in the boy's backpack, Wallace said, and a single bullet in his pocket.

The boy was expelled from school that morning, according to a letter officials sent home to parents of all students at the school. Joyce Swanson, middle school principal, said state law requires that a student who brings a gun to school be expelled.

Swanson said another student saw the weapon and immediately told the assistant principal. School officials and police went to the boy's classroom together, Wallace said.

"One of the really positive things about this is that the student reported it," Swanson said. "That's really critical in a school setting. The students will pretty much always have the information before we do. They're the eyes and ears of the school."

Wallace said the gun, which came from the student's home, was never pointed or used to threaten anyone. He said the boy told police that he brought the gun to school because he had "concerns for his safety" and felt threatened by other students.

Investigators are attempting to determine if there was any bullying or harassment directed at the student, but Wallace said they haven't found any evidence of that. Swanson agreed that "nothing stands out" in regard to bullying directed at that student.

Also, Wallace said police are investigating the possibility that the boy "made threats to other students in the last week or so."

The student was arrested on suspicion of bringing a weapon onto school grounds, which is a gross misdemeanor offense. The boy could face additional charges, Wallace said, if investigators find he made previous threats against other students.

Swanson said the expulsion lasts for one calendar year and the student can appeal, although state law prevents that student from being readmitted to the same school.

Wallace said this is the first case in Oak Harbor he's aware of in which a student brought an actual firearm to school. He said students have been caught with paintball and BB guns in the past.

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