JONES COUNTY, MS (WDAM) - A fifth grader in Jones County is suspended after he brought a "look-alike" gun to school on Tuesday.
Jones County Schools Superintendent Tommy Parker said the 12-year-old boy brought the gun to North Jones Elementary.
Parker said the weapon was reported in the morning. When school officials confiscated the gun from the student, they confirmed it was a "fake" or "toy" gun.
"It looked very realistic," Parker said. "We've dealt with these issues in the past, a couple of times. The students bring these look-alike guns to school and we're just like law enforcement, it can create a lot of panic at school because we aren't sure what we are dealing with."
Parker said the boy showed the replica gun to three friends, but told them not to tell anyone. Those students then alerted an adult about the possible weapon.
Parker said within 15 minutes, the gun was confiscated from the student's backpack.
"Had it been a real weapon or a real gun, it would have been a very dangerous situation at that school," Parker said. "Those students did the right thing reporting that. School is a kind of a reflection of our society. People that know right from wrong and want to report wrongdoing is what helps us keep things in order in our schools, for people to step up and do that."
Parker said all school resource officers in Jones County are armed while on duty. He said in a situation like this, when a student brings a replica gun or weapon to school, could turn into a dangerous situation.
"For law enforcement, when they see these maybe older children or adolescents with a gun that looks or appears to be real, they have to make a decision whether that is a real gun or not," Parker said. "That can place the children or the young people in a great amount of danger. Even though its not a real weapon, it can place them in a great amount of danger."
Parker said the district has dealt with issues like this in the past. He said he wants parents to be aware of the dangers of purchasing these "look-alike" guns could pose on their children.
"Anything that can be considered to do harm to other students has no place at school," Parker said. "It doesn't hurt for them to check the book bags occasionally. You know, they might find some real good papers and some that are not so good, but they might find some things that have no business being at school."
Parker said the fifth grader will have a disciplinary hearing in the coming days. The board will suggest the punishment for bringing the replica weapon to school. Parker said that could be an extended suspension, expulsion or transfer to an alternative school for the rest of the year.
The Jones County School District handbook states any student in any school who posses "a knife, handguns, other firearms or any other instrument considered to be dangerous and capable of causing bodily harm... shall be subject to automatic expulsion by the superintendent or principal in which the student is enrolled."
Parker said since the district is dealing with a "fake" gun, he is not sure what the outcome will be. However, the student will remain suspended until a decision is made.