Police: Central Middle student stole gun from father

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The exterior of Dover Central Middle School after Tuesday’s shooting. (Delaware State News/Dave Chambers)

DOVER — A gun fired at Central Middle School Tuesday was legally owned and stored in an unsecured area before it was allegedly stolen by a 12-year-old, according to police investigation.

Dover Police Department said Aaron Carrillo brought his father’s .380 caliber Smith and Wesson bodyguard model handgun to school, where it was later taken by another student and discharged in a bathroom. No injuries were reported.

According to police spokesman Master Cpl. Mark Hoffman, Carrillo and Nasir Bush, 13, had “some discussion or agreement about the gun between the acquaintances/friends” before the incident was reported at approximately 12:15 p.m. Authorities alleged Bush took the gun from Carrillo’s locker before a shot was fired.

Both students were charged with possession of a handgun by prohibited juvenile, possession of a weapon in safe school zone and carrying a concealed deadly weapon. Carrillo also was charged with theft of a firearm; Bush with criminal mischief.

After arraignment through Justice of the Peace Court 7 in Dover, Carrillo was given a $2,000 secured bond, and Bush received $1,600 secured, police said. Both were detained at People’s Place in Milford afterward, according to authorities.

On Wednesday, Central Middle School Principal Shan Green referred all questions to Capital School District Superintendent Dr. Dan Shelton.

Citing student manual protocol, Dr. Shelton said any student even suspected of bringing a handgun to school automatically is suspended pending a future hearing.

According to police, investigation found that Central Middle staff members first heard the gunshot sound, and checked a first-floor boys bathroom. A damaged, leaking toilet was discovered, according to authorities.

Soon afterward, video footage was reviewed by staff and a Dover Police school resource officer who allegedly saw Bush as the only student in the restroom at the time, police said.

Bush immediately was taken into custody without incident and questioned, police said. Officers quickly located the handgun in a second floor restroom.

Carrillo was soon located by officers and school officials after the handgun was found to have allegedly been taken from his locker, Cpl. Hoffman said. He “admitted to stealing the gun from his father and bringing it to school to give it to Bush,” according to a Dover Police news release.

Police did not disclose the nature of the gun discharge, intentional or not.

The recovered weapon is now secured in evidence by Dover Police.

Mr. Carrillo’s father is not facing any charges, authorities said.

High drama day

It was a high drama day at Central Middle with a bomb threat called in to the school at 9:40 a.m. and the gun incident occurring less than three hours later. No bomb was detected after a search.

After officers cleared the bomb threat area at 11:31 a.m., Dover Police was notified of a possible gun discharge 44 minutes later. A city officer arrived to the campus at 211 Delaware Ave. a minute later, and a school resource officer had remained there, according to police.

In the gunshot response, the last officer departed the scene at 1:42 p.m. Officers remained at Central Middle to ensure safety for the rest of the day and at dismissal, authorities said.

During the two sequences, Cpl. Hoffman said school staff and administration “did an excellent job in both situations to maintain calm and assist police in their investigation and search.”

Said Dr. Shelton, “We take all threats with equal caution and then we receive police input.

“Each school has a specific course of action planned but every situation is unique so we have to alter the plans based on the unique factors of each threat.”

Dr. Shelton said that while the school has specific plans for each type of threat response, no details are available so no potential assailant can evaluate what the district’s course of action would be in a situation.

In the bomb threat response, a Dover Police Department patrol unit handled the primary duties with assistance from other specialized units, Cpl. Hoffman said.

The gunshot investigation was more widespread, he said, and “included personnel from throughout the department, including special units, criminal investigations unit and staff officers.”

Cpl. Hoffman said there was an obvious concern regarding youth and gun play in general throughout the city.

“We have seen a few cases in the past year involving young people with weapons, including a 16-year-old for an [alleged] shooting in the Hamlet in December,” he said.

Dover Police could not recall any other incident when a gun was fired within a middle school.

Evaluating the concerns

On Monday, Dover High was dismissed early due to a reported bomb threat that proved unfounded.

“Making the decision to send the Dover High students home early the other day was an easy one,” Dr. Shelton said. “We received the threat around 1 p.m. and immediately evacuated the school and the police told us it would take at least an hour until the school could be determined to be safe so the students wouldn’t be able to go back in until the normal school day would end.”

On Tuesday at Central Middle, however, the circumstances dictated keeping the kids at school after the area was deemed safe.

“Yesterday, the threat at Central Middle came earlier and it was a colder day than Monday so the course of action was a little more difficult but we were able to get our needier students on buses to get them off site and we handled the situation as it developed,” Dr. Shelton said.

The time lost at school, while disruptive, won’t alter the calendar at this point, Dr. Shelton said.

“Our schedule is based on minutes not days and we have plenty of extra minutes built into our schedule for fog delays and snow days so we will be fine as far as minutes go but it is a huge disruption to instructional time,” he said.

On Wednesday morning, Central Middle was given as much information as possible about incidents from the day before.

“Our teachers have lesson plans and threats are disruptive, not only the day of the event but the next day, too,” Dr. Shelton said.

“This morning didn’t go as planned at Central because although we, the administration are the leaders, it’s important we keep our students informed and so we had a debriefing this morning and were sure to offer any services, like counseling, our students may need relating to the incident.”

As for advice to adults with weapons at home and in the vicinity of children, Cpl. Hoffman responded: “Always store firearms in a safe and secure place that children cannot gain access to.”

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