NBC10.com - Deanna Durante
Parents and students at a Philadelphia school received a scare after a gun was found inside a teen's backpack. NBC10's Deanna Durante has the details.
A teenager brought a gun to a city high school this morning, according to investigators.
According to Philadelphia Police a gun was found inside the Knowledge Is Power Program’s DuBois Collegiate Academy at 5070 Parkside Avenue in the Parkside neighborhood.
Officials say a 17-year-old boy was involved in a fight with another student when school opened around 8 a.m. Wednesday. After that incident, some students alerted officials that the teen possibly had a gun on him.
"They called police immediately and officers arrived on scene and made contact with the student," said Philadelphia Police Lieutenenant John Walker. "They searched his book bag and recovered a loaded .45 caliber handgun."
The teen was taken into custody and charged with weapons offenses as a juvenile. School officials say the teen never threatened anyone with the gun or made an attempt to use it during the fight.
The school has a no gun policy and the student will likely be expelled. Police have not yet revealed why the teen had a gun in the first place. However, a school representative told NBC10.com's Deanna Durante that the student told investigators that he carried the gun to and from school for protection.
KIPP DuBois is an open-enrollment charter school serving 360 ninth to 12th graders. According to the school's website, the school strives to "...provide students with a relevant, exciting and individualized learning environment, allowing students to emerge with the critical thinking, global vision and knowledge or self necessary to succeed in college, the competitive world beyond and be leaders in their communities."
KIPP does not have a security force or metal detectors. Instead, it relies on students to come forward when they hear or see something suspicious. Officials say the fact that the initial reports of the gun came from students shows that their system works.
"No one was in danger, other than to say that this young man did have something in his bag," said Marc Manella, the school's CEO. "It's a scary situation and we're very grateful that the police came out so quickly and it was handled safely and everyone's okay."
Parents of the students were notified and arrived at school to pick up their kids Wednesday morning. Dana Brown broke down in tears shortly after picking up her son. She says that despite receiving a school alert stating that the students were safe, she was still shaken by the news.
"I'm still shaking," she said. "I couldn't explain the feeling. My legs are still like noodles."
Parents who spoke to NBC10 say they've always agreed with the school's non-traditional security procedures. In light of Wednesday morning's incident however, they say they now want those procedures to be reviewed. Manella still believes the school's system works however.
"Our primary concern is always the safety of our students," he said. "We're looking at this as our system working. He was not in the school for even an hour from my understanding, before he was found to have the gun and he was apprehended by police."