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G.W. Students Face Multiple Charges

Weapons on school grounds, shooting, lead to action.

Five George Washington (G.W.) Middle School students are facing criminal weapons charges, suspension and possible expulsion after discharging a BB gun at other students on school property.

The shooting occurred at around 4:30 p.m. on Feb. 27. Three female students were chased by a group of approximately five students in the space between the annex and the ball fields. The five students had weapons that appeared to be guns. One of the group of students that had the weapons fired at the girls and grazed one of them on the cheek. According to a school report, the girls returned to the school and reported the incident, and school officials called the police.

"I didn't take the original report but started investigating as soon as I saw it," said Jill Lingle, the School Resource Officer at G.W. "I wasn't really able to question the students until the following Monday because there was a snow day on Feb. 28 and the kids were out of school."

On March, 3, Lingle learned the names of the students with the weapons who had pursued the girls and began questioning them. In the end, a 15-year-old eighth-grader was charged with malicious wounding, illegal possession of a firearm on school property, brandishing a firearm on school property and willful discharge of a firearm on school property.

A 14-year-old and a 16-year-old were charged with the three weapons violations, and a 14-year-old female was charged as an accessory. An additional 15-year-old male was charged with possession when Ingle learned that there were two BB guns.

Principal Robert Yeager suspended all of those who were charged and has recommended expulsion.

School Board member V. Rodger Digilio concurred with that decision. "We have a zero tolerance policy for carrying weapons on school property," he said. "A BB gun is a weapon."

THAT IS BORNE out by law. "It is against the law for anyone under the age of 18 to purchase a BB gun," Lingle said. "BB guns are also considered to be concealed weapons if they are hidden in your pants, under a coat or in a purse. These BB guns looked amazingly like real guns. Parents really need to think about that when they purchase them for their kids."