A pair of seventh grade boys in Virginia Beach, Virginia, have been suspended from school for the rest of the year after they were spotted playing with toy “airsoft” guns in the front yard of one of the boys while they waited for the school bus. Fox News reported that the boys, identified as 13-year-old Khalid Caraballo and Aidan Clark, are even facing possible expulsion from school for, according to school officials, the “possession, handling, and use of a firearm” because the boys admittedly shot the toy guns, which fire harmless plastic pellets, at other children nearby waiting for the school bus.
A neighbor called 9-11 to complain that one of the boys was “pointing the gun, and it looks like there’s a target in a tree in his front yard.” She admitted to the dispatcher that she knew the gun “is not a real one, but it makes people uncomfortable. I know that it makes me [uncomfortable], as a mom, to see a boy pointing a gun.”
While police called to the scene determined that no crime had taken place, the principal at Larkspur Middle School, Matthew Delaney, quickly swung into action, insisting that the boys had endangered other children at the bus stop close to their homes. In a statement on the school's letterhead, Delaney explained that “I was advised by the Virginia Beach Police Department ... that a passing motorist had seen a child with a gun chasing another child in the street near a Larkspur bus stop.”
Delaney wrote that in the course of his investigation he discovered that the boys had fired the toy pellet guns at each other and at people near the bus stop. “Several students verified that they had been hit by pellets and had the marks to support their claims,” the principal duly reported. “In one instance, a child was only 10 feet from the bus stop and ran from the shots being fired but was still hit.”
He noted that other kids had reported to being hit by the plastic pellets during a previous incident near the bus stop. “Because students were on their way to or at a school bus stop when they were struck by pellets,” Delaney said, “the school division has jurisdiction to take disciplinary actions against those students responsible for the disruption.”
While the initial discipline will be a lengthy suspension for the boys, a hearing in January could change the punishment to expulsion from the school. “As the principal of Larkspur Middle School, I am responsible for the safety of students and will take all appropriate actions to ensure that the students using the pellet guns are appropriately disciplined and held responsible for their conduct,” Delaney intoned.
Meanwhile, one of the parents reacted with appropriate anger at what most sensible people would regard as an over-reaction by the school official. “My son is my private property,” Khalid’s mother, Solangel Caraballo, was quoted by Prison Planet as saying. “He does not become the school’s property until he goes to the bus stop, gets on the bus, and goes to school.” She added that while she was upset with her son for his actions, “this is a home issue. It’s not a school issue and it won’t happen again. He will never do this again.”
Khalid insisted that he and Aidan never went near the bus stop. “We see the bus come. We put the gun down,” he said. “We did not take the airsoft guns to the bus stop.”
Aidan admitted to a local news reporter that he had shot the 9-11 caller's son in the arm with one of the plastic pellets, and Khalid admitted to shooting a friend as well. “He knew we had the airsoft gun,” he said. “He knew we were playing. He knew people were getting shot. We were shooting at the tree, but he still came and even after he was shot he still played.”
As for the backlash caused by the principal's response, Khalid said he is worried about how the incident will impact his future. “It’s terrible,” he said. “I won’t get the chance to go to a good college. It’s on your school record.”
The boy said that the school report indicates that he was in the possession of a firearm, an overstatement that future colleges will take at face value. “They are going to think it was a real gun, and I was trying to hurt someone,” he said. “They will say ‘oh, we can’t accept you.’”