A 7-year-old child allegedly shot a Nerf-style toy gun in his Hammonton, N.J., school Jan. 18. No one was hurt, but the pint-size softshooter now faces misdemeanor criminal charges.
Hammonton Police began an investigation into the “suspicious activity” at the Hammonton Early Childhood Education Center Jan. 18 after school officials alerted them to the incident.
The "gun" the child brought to school was a $5 toy gun, similar to a Nerf gun, that shoots soft ping pong type balls, according to the school's superintendent.
Officials also say that there was no evidence of anyone being threatened. The child's mother told school officials that she didn't know her son brought the toy to school.
Dr. Dan Blachford, the Hammonton Board of Education superintendent, said the school has a zero tolerance policy.
"We are just very vigilant and we feel that if we draw a very strict line then we have much less worry about someone bringing in something dangerous," said Blachford.
Deseire Gherard, a parent of one of the students at the school, agrees with the policy.
"I'd rather it be dealt with more severely than not," said Gherard. "I would rather them go a little bit too far for the safety of all the children then to say 'okay, it was probably nothing.'"
Police charged the 7-year-old with possessing an imitation firearm in or on an education institution – a misdemeanor and a minor juvenile offense in New Jersey.
School officials described the child as "a nice kid" and "a good student." Authorities haven't commented on what specific disciplinary action or punishment the boy faces though it could involve counseling and other resources made available to the family.