Montesano Police and Montesano School District officials re-opened an investigation this week into why a student brought a BB gun to high school several months ago, looking into new tips to see if the incident was related to bullying or a potential “fight club” on campus.
The original incident happened back in December when a young male high school student brought a realistic-looking air pistol that shoots pellets, according to Montesano Police Chief Brett Vance. Vance said when the student was originally interviewed, he told police and district officials that he had just brought the weapon to show it off to friends.
The student was disciplined and no longer attends the school. The School District has a zero tolerance policy when it comes to guns of any kind.
In a conversation with a trusted adult friend in February, however, the student relayed that the incident had more to do with bullying in the high school and proving himself to a potential “fight club” than just a show-and-tell incident. The adult friend looked into those details and recently told Superintendent Dan Winter about what was going on.
Superintendent Dan Winter said this week that District officials are now looking into the new allegations. Winter called Chief Vance on Monday and police were interviewing students to see what’s happening on campus.
The original incident happened at about the same time as the Sandy Hook Elementary shootings back in December in Connecticut. And, at one point, the BB gun went off in the principal’s office as the student’s dad held it. Nobody was hurt. The pellet hit the ceiling, Winter said.
Winter said district officials never notified parents or went public with the incident because there originally was no evidence that the gun was brought to school for bullying reasons.
“Things like that happen in schools all over the place,” Winter said. “Kids will have knives in their backpacks and they’ll open them up and go, ‘Gosh I forgot this was here’ and they’ll bring it to the office. That happens numerous times a year. They’re relatively innocent events that we don’t broadcast to parents of the community because there’s no need to. …
“We try to protect the student’s rights in terms of talking about discipline,” Winter added. “This was never a situation where the student said he felt like he was being bullied or needed protection and said he was going to use it. That’s not the case we were dealing with. … It was not a safety issue at all. It was never held out in a commons, where someone was acting like they would shoot it. The student showed it to friends in a back pack and a student contacted administration.”
Winter confirmed that the student was changing his story since December, however.
“Originally, he said he was bringing it to show off, but then he said he lied to them and he was bringing it because he felt threatened and he gave the names of those supposedly organizing the fight club,” Winter said. “We talked to each of the three students and they said there is no organized fight anything, but confirmed a few months ago there were a few fights between kids that had a grudge but it wasn’t any kind of organized anything. The question becomes how much do we believe the kid who brought the BB gun and how much do we believe the other kids? … If there’s a fight club or any kind of bullying then we need to address this. I don’t know what to believe. But if there’s any bullying in the school — and there is because there’s bullying everywhere — we’re trying to be on top of that. This is a reminder we need to be as vigilant as we can.”
Anyone with information is asked to call the Montesano Police Department at (360) 249-1031 or the Montesano School District at (360) 249-3942.