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WEAPONS SEIZED AT SCHOOLS PROMPT POLICE PLEA

May 13, 2003 – The discovery of deadly weapons in the possession of elementary and high school students and a cache of such weapons in a school restroom this week has prompted police authorities to plead with parents, guardians and other family members "to become more pro-active in the protection of our children as they end this school year."
On Monday, a 13-year-old boy was charged with the unauthorized possession of a firearm after he was found to have a Grendel .380-caliber pistol in his schoolbag at Alexander Henderson Elementary School in Frederiksted. He was detained in the custody of Territorial Court.
According to a police report, the sixth grader said he had brought the gun to school for his own protection. Police said the boy said he was in a fight last week but never reported the incident to police, school officials or his mother.
Sgt. Thomas Hannah, police spokesman, described the pistol as an automatic handgun, but said that because a clip with multiple rounds of ammunition was also in the boy's possession, the weapon is considered a "machine gun."
On Tuesday, two boys ages 16 and 17 were charged with the possession of a dangerous weapon at Charlotte Amalie High School on St. Thomas. Police say the 16-year-old had in his possession "a small blue knife with a 2-inch blade" and the 17-year-old had "a black-handle gravity knife with a 4-inch blade."
There was more. According to St. Thomas Deputy Police Chief Elvin Fahie Sr., CAHS school monitors found a cache of nine "knives and other cutting instruments" in a boys' restroom at the high school. An image provided by police of the weapons seized included a machete.
A police report said the motive for bringing the weapons to school was unclear and that "a follow-up investigation will be conducted in this situation to determine the motivation for incidents and situations affecting the education of our children." The investigation, it said, "will require the assistance of the school staff to avoid future problems."
The incidents are not without precedent. In January, a 14-year-old boy at Arthur A. Richards Junior High School in Frederiksted was found to be carrying a loaded Tech-9 assault-type automatic weapon in his schoolbag. Authorities said at the time that the youth had had no previous brushes with the law.
In 1995, Lamar Knight, a student at CAHS, was stabbed to death on the school grounds in a fight with two other students as numerous others looked on. He died as a result of a stab wound to his throat which severed his trachea and aorta. A 14-year-old boy was charged with the killing.
In 1998, two boys on St. Croix died as a result of violence at their schools. A 15-year-old student at John H. Woodson Junior High School in Frederiksted was stabbed by a classmate as he got off a school bus. And a student hit in the head by a special education student with a drafting T-square later died as a result of the injury.
In October of 1999, Kareem McIntosh, a 19-year-old former Central High School student, was fatally stabbed in the chest in a fight involving several youths on the CHS school grounds. A 17-year-old student was charged with the killing.
Last year, a CAHS student was injured in a brawl stabbing on campus and in another incident, a 15-year-old student was wounded in a stabbing on Pollyberg Road a short distance away from the high school. Last fall, a 15-year-old Ivanna Eudora Kean High School student was stabbed by another student in the school cafeteria.
On Tuesday, in response to this week's events, Police Commissioner Elton Lewis said in a statement that "it is increasingly clear to us that parents, guardians and families must take a serious look at the well-being of their children. Too many incidents of this type are happening more frequently, and the consequences have been dire."
Lewis called on adults supervising students to "check your child's schoolbag" when the youngster is leaving home for school. "Don't be hesitant to check the pockets, shoes and other [places] where a child might hide a weapon," he said.
In addition, Lewis urged parents and guardians to "find out who your children's friends are." Get the friends' names, the names and addresses of their parents and "any other information you feel is important," he said.

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