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updated: 12/12/2013 5:59 PM

Romeoville man charged after student brought his loaded gun to Elgin school

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  • Video: Loaded gun at Elgin school

  • Elgin police leave Gifford Elementary School Thursday after investigating a student bringing a loaded handgun to school.

       Elgin police leave Gifford Elementary School Thursday after investigating a student bringing a loaded handgun to school.
    Christopher Hankins | Staff Photographer

  • Elgin Police Chief Jeff Swoboda, right, speaks at a news conference Thursday afternoon regarding an incident at Gifford Elementary School after a student was found to have a loaded 9 mm handgun in his backpack. At left is Elgin Area School District U-46 Safety Coordinator John Heiderscheit.

       Elgin Police Chief Jeff Swoboda, right, speaks at a news conference Thursday afternoon regarding an incident at Gifford Elementary School after a student was found to have a loaded 9 mm handgun in his backpack. At left is Elgin Area School District U-46 Safety Coordinator John Heiderscheit.
    Christopher Hankins | Staff Photographer

 
 

The Kane County State Attorney's Office has charged a Romeoville man following an investigation into how a 7-year-old boy got his hands on a loaded gun, which he brought to Gifford Elementary School in Elgin Thursday morning.

Elgin Police said the gun had been in the possession of 27-year-old Rashaad Byrd, who was staying in an Elgin apartment with the boy and his family. The boy found the weapon and brought it to school Thursday, police said.

Authorities have charged Byrd, of the 200 block of Highpoint, with unlawful possession of a weapon by a felon, a Class 3 felony because Byrd is not eligible for a Firearm Owner Identification card, and child endangerment, a Class A misdemeanor.

The 9 mm handgun was found in the second grader's backpack and police were notified just after 10 a.m.

Elgin Police Chief Jeff Swoboda said at an afternoon news conference that there will be no charges filed against the student. The boy and his family were questioned at the police station Thursday afternoon.

The Elgin Police Department's K-9 officers and Elgin Area School District U-46 administration members spent 90 minutes searching the school building and lockers. No further weapons were found, police said.

U-46 officials said a student reported to a teacher about seeing a gun in another student's backpack at the school, 240 S. Clifton Ave.

"Staff took immediate action and secured the backpack in the main office and called the police," according to a district statement.

"We have not identified threats or intention to harm anyone," U-46 spokesman Patrick Mogge said. "No injuries occurred. The staff did a great job of taking immediate action."

The student was immediately brought to the school office to speak with staff members and police officers. While the school was not on lockdown, there was some disruption of classes during the police search for any additional weapons, officials said.

U-46 Safety Coordinator John Heiderscheidt, speaking at the news conference, commended Gifford staff members for creating an atmosphere at the school in which students feel safe reporting anything suspicious.

Parents were notified immediately of the situation through alerts in English and Spanish, officials said.

"This situation is unfortunate that any young person can get his hands on a loaded weapon," he said.

Swoboda would not discuss details about the student's motive for bringing the gun to school.

"We don't anticipate at this point that the 7-year-old would be charged," he said.

Heiderscheidt declined to say whether the student will be suspended for his action.

The district's policy in such situations calls for referring the matter to police, and potentially suspending or expelling a student for bringing a gun to school, per state law.

Heiderscheidt said there will be extra police patrols near the school when classes resume Friday, and the district will have its crisis team on hand to help students with any concerns.

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