A Kansas middle school student was led out of class in handcuffs and charged with a felony after she allegedly formed her fingers into the shape of a gun and pointed at various classmates, The Kansas City Star reports. The incident happened in September but has only recently been revealed to the media.
On September 18, as classes were taking place at Westridge Middle School in Overland Park, in suburban Kansas City, two girls were engaged in conversation. One girl allegedly asked a classmate who she would kill, if she could. The girl, whose age is reported as 12 according to The Kansas City Star and 13 according to NBC News, allegedly shaped her hands and fingers into a shape resembling a gun, and then allegedly pointed it at various classmates. She then turned the imaginary weapon on herself.
That got both girls a trip to the principal’s office. There, a school resource officer suggested that the girl who allegedly made the imaginary weapon needed to be arrested, and hauled the girl out of the school in handcuffs. She was detained briefly in police custody and then released to a parent.
Public schools are generally reluctant to discuss issues that take place within their walls, particularly when it involves students, due to privacy concerns, and this case is no exception. However, a spokesperson for Westridge Middle School did say that it was not the school’s decision to have the girl arrested, but rather, the decision was made by the school resource officer, who is himself or herself an employee of the Overland Park Police Department, not the school district.
“We don’t do that. That is not our job.”
He said the role of the district police is “not to enforce the law but to keep kids and adults safe,” said spokesman Dan Smith.
In a press release, Overland Park Police said that the climate of violence and potential violence in schools these days dictates that anything that is even perceived as a threat must be taken seriously.
“Too often there are reports of violence in schools and inevitably questions about what could or should have been done to prevent the tragedy. Threats in schools are taken very seriously and treated appropriately,” police said in a statement.
The Johnson County District Attorney’s Office agreed, and has charged the girl with making criminal threats, a felony in Kansas.
Jon Cavanaugh, the girl’s grandfather, said that the whole thing could have been handled with a visit to the principal’s office.
“She was just mouthing off,” he said.
The unidentified girl is due in court some time next week.