A student walking around campus with a loaded gun is just about a school police officer’s worst nightmare.
The only case of a worse scenario imaginable would be if that student was actively shooting at other people while on campus.
The difference between those two situations dictated what occurred Monday, when school officials learned that a Glynn Academy student had brought a loaded gun to school, Glynn County Schools Police Chief Rod Ellis said. The dire news demanded immediate action, without spreading panic or causing undue alarm on campus, Ellis said.
“You’ve got to use caution in a situation like this,” Ellis said. “Rather than take the time for a school lockdown, it was more expedient to eliminate the threat as quickly as possible. A lockdown would be for an active shooter. Your whole goal is stop what’s threatening the school.”
Which is exactly what school police officer Brandy Putnam and a Glynn Academy assistant principal did, Ellis said.
School officials received word around noon that the 15-year-old boy had a handgun in his backpack. A fellow Glynn Academy student who saw the gun used a cellphone to alert an adult off campus, Ellis said. That adult, the conscientious student’s aunt, then called Glynn Academy school officials to tell them who the student was and where he kept the gun, Ellis said.
Officer Putnam and the assistant principal quickly located and encountered the armed student outside the school cafeteria, as he was heading from lunch to his next class, Ellis said. The assistant principal declined to be identified.
Calmly but firmly, the two confronted the boy and escorted him to a secluded, secure location. Putnam searched his backpack and found the 9 mm handgun, which was loaded with four bullets.
Ellis said Putnam and the school official used sound judgement in quickly and quietly resolving the potentially deadly emergency.
“They had a situation where a young man had a gun,” Ellis said. “They knew who the boy was, they knew where the gun was, which was in his backpack. They separated the student from the backpack, secured the gun and eliminated the threat. That was the best possible scenario for that situation.”
Some Glynn Academy students said Thursday the incident happened so fast that they were unaware of the possible threat until much later.
Police have learned that the boy may have been angry with a girl he had dated who also is a student at Glynn Academy, Ellis said. He would not discuss further details about the student’s possible motive for bringing the gun to school, citing the ongoing investigation.
The student was taken to the juvenile detention center in Waycross and faces expulsion from school as well as criminal charges. He had an appearance in juvenile court Wednesday at the Glynn County Courthouse in Brunswick.