HENRICO, VA (WWBT) - Henrico police have arrested and charged a 16-year-old after the school system said a loaded gun was found at Highland Springs High School earlier on Friday.
District spokesman Andy Jenks said after receiving a tip from someone inside the school, a loaded gun was found inside a backpack. Police immediately confiscated the item, and officers said it was never displayed or used in a threatening manner. The Advanced Career Education Center and Highland Springs High School were placed on lockdown until dismissal.
"I did not know there was a loaded gun" said Highland Springs Senior Daré Thames. "It kind of surprises me, because I didn't think someone would actually bring a loaded gun."
Classroom instruction went on normally until dismissal, Jenks said.
"It's very stunning," said Seconda Hickles, a parent of Highland Springs H.S. student. "Of course, it's sad hearing… this is an epidemic. There are shootings every day that are taking place."
Jenks said a message was sent to families via email and phone about the situation. However, Hickles said she never got that message.
"I found out from you all (NBC12)," she said.
In the end Hickles said she's thankful her son was okay.
"We need parents to speak to their children about the seriousness and the consequences because this is not a win, win situation for anyone," she said.
That sentiment was echoed in the statement sent out by the district, which reads in part:
"Again, we are thankful that this matter was brought to our immediate attention so it could be addressed right away. We always encourage students, their families and community members to come forward when they see or hear something that may impact or involve school safety. Please help us by taking this moment to speak with your student(s) about the importance of a safe and secure school environment."
"I'm not scared, I'm just more worried about everybody else, and myself too and the friends and family in here," Thames said.
The Highland Springs administrative team will continue to work with those believed to be involved in the incident and their families.
The 16-year-old was charged with possession of a firearm on school property.
While Henrico police have not released the name of the person, according to the district's code of student conduct, the student could face expulsion for one year.
"Our children's safety is first," Hickles said. "So if a child has to be expelled it has to be done."
"Just keep us safe," Thames said. "I don't want to die young… I've got a lot of years left."
The incident comes days after a deadly shooting at a high school in Great Mills, Maryland and before Saturday's "March for our Lives" events happening in Richmond and Washington D.C.
"I think we need to come together as parents and adults and be better role models," Hickles said. "We need to get to the root of the situation. If that means putting metal detectors in and searching our bags every day, then that's what needs to be done."
Anyone with any information regarding this incident should call Henrico police at 804-501-5000 or Crime Stoppers at 804-780-1000.
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