HENRY COUNTY, Va. (WFXR) — A teenage boy is facing multiple weapons charges after a loaded pistol was discovered at a Henry County high school on Tuesday, less than a week into the new school year.
According to the Henry County Sheriff’s Office, Bassett High School faculty learned about a student in possession of a gun at approximately 11:30 a.m. on Tuesday, Aug. 16. Staff members notified the school resource officer, who immediately found and detained the student.
Authorities say a search of the student’s backpack led to the discovery of a loaded 9mm pistol. The student had reportedly shown the gun to another student, who then told an adult about a gun being on campus.
Officials tell WFXR News that a 16-year-old Collinsville boy has been charged with the following offenses and placed into secure detention at W.W. Moore Juvenile Detention Facility in Danville:
- Possession of a firearm on school property (felony)
- Possession of a concealed weapon
- Possession of a firearm under the age of 18
“The actions of the student who reported this are commendable and allowed Henry County Sheriff’s Office School Resources Officers and BHS staff to act quickly and ensure the school campus remained safe,” the Henry County Sheriff’s Office wrote. “Parents should talk with their children and encourage them to immediately report any safety concerns to the school resource officer, school staff or even call 9-1-1 if necessary. We cannot stress enough ‘if you see something, say something.'”
Henry County Public Schools’ director of communications, Monica Hatchett, says the student who reported the weapon did everything they were supposed to do.
“We’re very proud of that student for speaking up and doing the right thing, not just for him or herself, but also for the student body and the staff here at the school,” said Hatchett.
She adds that the school system will be meeting with law enforcement on Wednesday, Aug. 17 to learn how the gun got onto campus and how to prevent it from happening again.
Meanwhile, Henry County Public Schools shared the following letter with WFXR News, which was sent to Bassett High School families:
Dear Bengal Families:
I am writing today to make you aware of an incident that has been addressed by both the school administration and the Henry County Sheriff’s office. I am sharing this information with you because our families need to be partners with us to help ensure a safe school environment. That partnership works best when we share information and work cooperatively.
School administration was informed this morning that a student had a gun on campus. School staff worked with Henry County Sheriff’s deputies to investigate the report. After our investigation, it was determined that a BHS student brought a gun on campus. The gun was shown to another student and the presence of the gun was reported to school staff immediately.
It is very important to note that we were made aware of this safety concern by a student who did the right thing. Once the student heard about the gun, that individual told a responsible adult. Obviously, we are extremely proud of this student. I am hopeful that you will encourage your children to adopt this mindset. Please remind them that if they become aware of a concern, their first response should be to alert school administration and/or the school resource officer so that it can be dealt with quickly. The goal of Bassett High School’s staff is to foster an atmosphere where students feel free to come to us if they become aware of a threat to student safety.
I want to assure you that we always take any type of threat to student safety seriously and have the full cooperation of the Sheriff’s department. Any student whose actions pose a safety concern for the rest of the student body will receive disciplinary action. Students also need to be aware that law enforcement agencies take these threats very seriously.
Again, your partnership is crucial in ensuring that Bassett High School is always a safe and inviting school. Should you have questions, please don’t ever hesitate to call me at 629-1731.
One parent, who didn’t want to share her name, says her son was in school as the situation unfolded. She thinks authorities and school officials need to get to the root of the problem.
“Why does he feel like he needs to bring it to school?” she asked. “…I just think they need to focus more on the child and not so much as the gun.”
Another Henry County parent, William Louis Cassell, says Henry County Public Schools needs more security.
“They could have a metal detector to find out if these kids have got this or check their bookbags when they’re coming through the doors,” he suggested.
However, WFXR News’ Rhian Lowndes spoke with some grandparents near Bassett High School who say they believe this was an isolated incident that is not representative of the school or the district.
If you have any information about Tuesday’s incident, you are asked to call the Henry County Sheriff’s Office at 276-638-8751 or the Crimestoppers Program at 63-CRIME (632-7463), which offers rewards up to $2,500 for information related to crime.