BB gun-toting fifth-grader suspended after shooting, threatening classmates

This post has been updated.

A fifth-grader at a North Philadelphia elementary school was suspended Monday after he shot a classmate with a BB gun and threatened another student, district officials said.

A teacher at John Whittier School, at 27th and Clearfield streets, was alerted that a student had a weapon after the boy threatened to shoot another student, district spokesman Fernando Gallard said.

The thug-in-training, who was detained by the principal after making the threat, ditched his backpack containing the gun in the schoolyard and at first told school administrators he didn't have a BB gun in his possession, Gallard said. Through questioning the student, administrators later found the bag containing the gun outside.

The student who was hit in the leg with a plastic pellet from the gun wasn't injured, Gallard said. This incident came on the heels of a high-school shooting in a Cleveland suburb that left one student dead and four others injured Monday morning, but Gallard said he was unsure what precautions, if any, the district would take in the wake of that school shooting.

Elementary schools don't have metal detectors, like all Philadelphia School District high schools do. Gallard said in the event security personnel in an elementary school are suspicious, they use hand-held wand detectors -- but the BB gun may have been plastic, Gallard said, so he wasn't sure it would have set off detectors anyway.

Gallard said the fifth-grader was immediately suspended and could face expulsion. The student is being detained by Philadelphia Police currently, as they investigate, Gallard said, adding that school police will also investigate the incident independently.

He said he wasn't sure how involved the parents of the BB gun-toting student were with the situation, but it's district policy to get in touch with them.

Parents of other students at the school will be notified of the incident via a letter, but that probably won't go out until tomorrow because of the timing of the incident, Gallard said.