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10-year-old brought a gun to school. Should he have been arrested?

The state attorney's office in Broward County explained that it didn't want to criminalize the boy. But could that set a dangerous precedent?
The state attorney's office in Broward County explained that it didn't want to criminalize the boy. But could that set a dangerous precedent?

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. – Parents of children who attend Walker Elementary School in Fort Lauderdale have many questions after a 10-year-old student was found with a gun in his backpack Wednesday morning.

“How did the 10-year-old get into the school with a gun?” parent Monique Higgins asked.

The gun scare sent the school into temporary lockdown but the student wasn’t arrested.

In response to the incident, the Broward State Attorney’s Office said it wouldn’t criminalize the child, rather making sure his family gets the help they need.

Attorney Michael Gottlieb is not involved in the case but explained to Local 10 News a possible reason why the young boy was not charged.

“When you arrest a 10-year-old, you create a significant amount of trauma,” said Gottlieb, a criminal defense attorney and state representative. “And if they looked at this as a 10-year-old who is already suffering from some type of mental disease mental defect or some kind of family trauma, they made a decision that this is a child that society would benefit best if this child gets services rather than get arrested.”

In a statement to Local 10, the state attorney’s office said:

“Obviously, Broward State Attorney Harold F. Pryor and our prosecutors take all cases involving any type of weapon on campus very seriously and our primary concern is always the safety of our community. Most cases involving weapons on campuses are prosecuted but we will always consult with police and school officials and evaluate the unique facts, circumstances and evidence of each case before making a decision about the appropriate response. The police department, school district and state attorney’s office, by law, notify Child Protective Investigations and the state Department of Children and Families when a child has access to a gun.

“Most cases involving weapons on campuses are prosecuted but we will always consult with police and school officials and evaluate the unique facts, circumstances and evidence of each case before making a decision about the appropriate response.”

Gottlieb said that this decision could lead to copycat school threats, but he warned not every child will get the same treatment.

“I think it’s incumbent upon parents to sit down with your kids,” he said. “This isn’t right. You are not allowed to possess my firearm, you can’t take my gun to school.”


About the Author:

Joseph Ojo joined Local 10 in April 2021. Born and raised in New York City, he previously worked in Buffalo, North Dakota, Fort Myers and Baltimore.