A 12-year-old girl was charged with a felony when she pointed her fingers symbolically in the form of a gun, to four of her classmates and herself.
The girl, from Westridge Middle School in Overland Park, Missouri, was in class when another student asked her who she would kill if she could kill five people in the class, an anonymous source told The Kansas City Star.
She then formed a gun shape with her fingers and pointed them at four students, one-by-one, before pointing it towards herself. As a consequence, she was sent to the principal Jeremy McDonnell’s office, along with the other students who were involved.
After questioning the students, the school resource officer recommended that the girl be arrested, a source told The Star, and the police were called.
Police hauled the girl through the hallways, out of her school in handcuffs. They arrested her and charged her with a felony for threatening.
According to Johnson County District Court documents, the girl “unlawfully and feloniously communicated a threat to commit violence, with the intent to place another in fear, or with the intent to cause the evacuation, lockdown or disruption in regular, ongoing activities …” or created just the risk of causing such fear.
Police had detained the girl before releasing her to her mother.
The girl has a court hearing scheduled on Tuesday with the Juvenile Division of the District Court of Johnson County.
“I think that this is something that probably could have been handled in the principal’s office and got completely out of hand,” said the girl’s grandfather in California, Jon Cavanaugh, where the girl is now living.
He said his granddaughter has no access to a real gun, and she had no intention of harming anyone. “She was just mouthing off,” he said.
Shawnee Mission School district officials told The Star that they could not discuss the case due to privacy laws, but said to them that it wasn’t the district that arrested the girl.
“We don’t do that,” said spokesman David Smith. “That is not our job.” He said the role of district officials is “not to enforce the law but to keep kids and adults safe.”
But he also told the news that pointing a finger pistol might violate the district’s policy against bullying. “I might not have anything in my hand, but I might be so clear that the individual definitely feels threatened,” Smith said.
According to the Shawnee Mission’s policies, intimidation is defined as, “any intentional written, verbal, electronic, or physical act or threat which is severe, persistent and pervasive enough that it may be expected to: Harm a student or damage a student’s property; create fear of harm to a student or fear of damage to a student’s property; interferes with a student’s education or participation in a school-sponsored activity or event or create an intimidating or threatening educational environment.”
The policy states that “conferencing, corrective discipline, and or referral to law enforcement will be used.”
“I’m really worried about my granddaughter’s future,” Cavanaugh said. He said he was told the child could face as much as a year at a juvenile detention center.