A Kansas middle school student is facing felony charges after she allegedly made a gun shape with her hand and pointed her finger at four students before pointing her finger at herself. Seriously.
Police hauled her out of school in handcuffs, arrested her and charged the child with a felony for threatening.
Shawnee Mission school officials said they could not discuss the case, citing privacy laws, but did say it wasn’t the district that arrested the child.
According to the Kansas City Star, the incident unfolded in a classroom at Westridge Middle School.
The person said that during a class discussion, another student asked the girl, if she could kill five people in the class, who would they be? In response, the girl allegedly pointed her finger pistol — like the ones many children use playing cops and robbers.
Because of that gesture, The Star was told, the girl was sent to Principal Jeremy McDonnell’s office, and the other students involved were also talked to. The school resource officer recommended that she be arrested, the source said. She was detained by police and later released to her mother.
It’s idiotic to pursue felony charges against this child. Are police going to charge the student who asked the 12-year old the question with inciting violence?
This story goes from bad to worse, according to Star columnist Toriano Porter, who points out the fact that two kids in the same school district who recently brought real guns to school aren’t facing felony charges for their actions.
Officials, who wouldn’t disclose how the two students were disciplined, said there was no evidence to suggest the teenagers planned to use the guns at school. Both were charged in juvenile court with possession of a firearm, a misdemeanor.
So, let me get this straight: Bringing a gun on campus is a misdemeanor? But threatening someone with few half-cocked fingers is a felony with potentially life-altering consequences?
Did I miss something here? It sure seems like school and law enforcement officials did.
According to the local district attorney, the reason why for the disparate charges in the two cases is simply a matter of law.
Johnson County District Attorney Steve Howe said bringing a gun to school is a serious matter, but in general, a felony charge can only be levied if a kid commits the same crime a second time.
Charging the 12-year-old girl with a felony “is something we don’t agree with,” Howe said. “But that is something the Legislature should look into.”
It’s good to know the DA doesn’t think a felony charge is appropriate here. Hopefully that means his office won’t be pursuing a case against the 12-year old for her finger gun. As Porter points out his his column, however, it never should have escalated to the point of getting the police involved in the first place.
Surely school officials and police could have taken steps to address her behavior, consider why she acted out and assess her mental health. The fact that a person familiar with the incident said that another student had asked the girl who she would choose if she could kill five people in the class raises even more questions.
Pointing a finger gun at classmates and then yourself is a cry for help — not a criminal act of violence.
I’m not even going to go so far as to say that this 12-year old was exhibiting a “cry for help.” She could have just been a 12-year old who wasn’t thinking that responding to a dumb question by a classmate was going to end up with her in handcuffs. What’s next? Arresting kids playing “Kiss, Marry, Kill” at lunch for making threats?
The 12-year old girl is now living in California with her grandfather, and will hopefully be able to put this incident behind her, but if the laws in Kansas need to be changed to prevent idiotic situations like this from taking place in the future, I hope legislators in the state will see to it that there are no more felony charges for finger guns in the future.