A 13-year-old middle school student in Kansas was arrested and charged with a felony after pointing her fingers, in the shape of a gun, at five classmates before turning her finger gun on herself.
The incident happened at Westridge Middle School in Overland Park, a suburb of Kansas City.
The student reportedly mimed the actions in response to being asked by another student to point out “five people you would kill,” according to Overland Park Chief of Police Frank Donchez.
Students reported the incident through the districts anonymous website form, meant to allow students to turn in bullies without fear of reprisal, and school principal Jeremy McDonnell stepped in to interview those involved.
He then contacted the school’s resource officer, according to Donchez.
“The officer then determined that several of the students are genuinely fearful of this girl, and combined with prior knowledge that he has, felt that an arrest was warranted.”
The student clearly has prior incidents in her past that concerned school officials, but Donchez says he won’t share them since the girl is a minor, and the district declined to comment.
The girl is facing a criminal charge and, if found guilty, time in a juvenile detention center.
“I think that this is something that probably could have been handled in the principal’s office and got completely out of hand. She was just mouthing off.”
As for Donchez, he resents reports and headlines claiming the arrest was made due to simple hand gestures.
“Victims in this case were genuinely concerned and fearful of this individual. When you combine that with the history that we’re aware of, and the students are aware of, when you combine all that and that these individuals were genuinely in fear, that’s why the arrest was made.”
This isn’t even close to the first incident of its kind – a first grader was suspended for finger guns in 2015, and the year before that a 10-year-old in Ohio was suspended for similar actions. In 2018, an adult in Pennsylvania was found guilty of disorderly conduct for pointing a finger gun at his neighbor.
But this gurl has been charged with a felony – something that is a first. Donchez defended his decision, saying, “I’ll take heat all day long for arresting a 13-year-old. I’m not willing to take the heat for not preventing a school tragedy.”
If only we could get people to take real guns as seriously as those pantomimed with fingers, we might be getting somewhere.