A 15-year-old student took a wooden rubber-band gun to a Miami school yesterday, prompting a lockdown that caused panic in a community still stunned by a slaying at a nearby middle school, the Miami Herald says. In the hours before the boy was charged, parents outside Centennial Middle School knew only that neighbors had called police after seeing someone wave around a rifle, stash it in his coat and walk into the school. “From a distance, it can be confused with a rifle or sawed-off shotgun,” said a school spokesman.
The school was locked down within minutes of the 911 call, and TV crews zoomed in overhead and on the ground. Centennial is less than five miles from a school where a 14-year-old boy was stabbed to death in February.
As parents swarmed behind yellow crime-scene tape, roughly 1,100 students marched through the well-rehearsed lockdown drill. Police conducted room-by-room searches to no avail, returning with sniffer dogs. But no one was looking for a wooden toy.
Police found the boy after students returned to their classrooms. He confessed to having the toy gun and hiding it in a classmate’s book bag. The weapons charge against him is a felony. Even though the toy looks nothing like a firearm up close, an official said, it qualified as a weapon because it “has a trigger mechanism and can fire a projectile.”