Pistol's safety catch may have stopped a 12-year-old from shooting his teacher in the face, report says

Updated 9/11/2018 11:59 AM

A 12-year-old in Iowa stood face-to-face with his teacher, pointing a loaded gun at the instructor's face, authorities said.

The young boy, who is not being named by The Washington Post because he is a minor, had taken the gun to class one morning last month at North Scott Junior High School in Eldridge, Iowa, and told the other children to drop to the ground, according to court documents cited by the Quad-City Times. Then he took aim at his teacher, and pulled the trigger, according to the documents.


But the gun did not fire -- and the teacher was not shot -- because the safety was on, according to the court documents.

The boy appeared in juvenile court Monday on charges including attempted murder and having a weapon on campus, according to ABC affiliate WQAD. He is being held at the Scott County Juvenile Detention Center, according to the Quad-City Times. Next month, a judge will determine whether the case will be moved to adult court.

Steve Hanna, the boy's attorney, said he could not comment on the case but noted that "some of these allegations are very much exaggerated or amplified."

Early on the morning of August 31, police officers responded to a call about a student with a gun at North Scott Junior High and took the child into custody, according to a statement from the Eldridge Police Department. Investigators discovered a loaded .22-caliber handgun at the scene, and the school was placed on lockdown during an investigation into the incident, authorities said at the time.

"We want all of you to know that North Scott Junior High is on lockdown at this time," school administrators said in an alert to parents. "Everyone is safe and we ask you please not come to school or call as we process the situation with students and staff. We did have a student bring a gun to the junior high. The student is in custody and the gun has been secured."

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After the incident, one student's mother told the Quad-City Times that she started "freaking out" when she got a call about what had happened.

"It's a crazy world out here," Amy Wheeler said.

Eldridge police Chief David Kopatich and North Scott Superintendent Joe Stutting said in a joint statement last week that in response to the incident, district officials implemented a safety plan.

It's still unclear where the boy got the gun or why he apparently took it to school and tried to shoot a teacher, but the teacher is being credited with helping to prevent another tragic school shooting.

Authorities said that when the gun failed to fire, the teacher wrestled the weapon from the boy, according to the Quad-City Times.

"The teacher in the room -- the decisions that she made -- made all the difference in the world," Stutting, the superintendent, told The Washington Post. He also praised the middle-school staff members for how they handled the situation, saying that under the circumstances, it was "the best outcome you could have."

A spokesman for the Scott County attorney's office said that if the boy's case is not moved to adult court, his trial will begin Oct. 26 in juvenile court.

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