Mom Charged After Son, 6, Brings Her Gun to School in Norristown, Police Say

Norristown Police Chief Michael Bishop praised the students who reported seeing the gun on their school bus.

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A Montgomery County woman was arrested after police say her 6-year-old son brought her gun to his elementary school in Norristown, Pennsylvania.

On February 9, Norristown Police were called to the Joseph K. Gotwals Elementary School on 1 East Oak Street for a report of a child with a gun. Investigators said a group of children who got off a bus that morning immediately reported to the school’s secretary that a 6-year-old boy had shown other students on the bus a real gun and bullets. The secretary immediately brought the boy into the office, looked into his backpack and saw the gun, investigators said. She then called police. 

"We were able to find the young man in the school office," Acting Norristown Police Chief Michael Bishop said. "Did recover a firearm and loose bullets, none were in the gun itself, in his backpack."

Investigators determined the boy’s mother, identified by police as 30-year-old Jasmin Devlin of Norristown, owned the gun. Police said the boy found his mother’s loaded handgun in a dresser in her bedroom on the night of February 8. The boy’s 10-year-old brother then took the bullets out of the gun and pointed the weapon at his younger brother, pretending to shoot him, investigators said. 

The 6-year-old boy told detectives he then went into his mother’s bedroom in the middle of the night, put the gun in his backpack and then took it to school, according to police. 

"When they brought it to school, the loose bullets were rolling around in the bottom of his backpack with the gun," Chief Bishop said. "The magazine was back in the gun but there were no bullets in the magazine. No bullets in the chamber."

Detectives determined the gun was a straw purchased firearm that was bought on March 4, 2022, by Joseph Rudnitskas, 33, of Norristown. Rudnitskas was arrested on April 9, 2022, and is awaiting trial on multiple charges related to illegal purchases and sales of four firearms, investigators said. 

Devlin surrendered to police on Tuesday. She is charged with endangering the welfare of a child and reckless endangerment. Her bail was set at $50,000 unsecured with an additional bail condition of having no contact with children. 

“This incident is a frightening reminder of the fact that children can and do find unsecured firearms in a home, and they play with them. Thankfully, these young boys were not shot or injured in their home, and no one was shot or injured at school thanks to the quick action by school personnel,” Montgomery County District Attorney Kevin Steele said. “This case is also a reminder of just how dangerous straw purchased firearms are.”

Both the school district and police concluded the 6-year-old boy had no intent of using or threatening anyone with the weapon.

"He didn't know whether that gun could fire or not," Chief Bishop said. "He wouldn't have known as a 6-year-old. And it could've just been an accidental tragedy where another child could've been shot and killed."

Chief Bishop praised the students who reported seeing the gun on the bus. 

“I would like to commend the children who notified school officials immediately, thus preventing another tragedy at a school,” Chief Bishop said. “These children are the true heroes in this unfortunate incident. Their notification to school officials resulted in an immediate response by Norristown Police, ensuring the safety of everyone at the school.”

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