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A 12-year-old girl mimed a gun shape with her fingers last month at her Kansas middle school and pointed the “gun” at four other students and herself. For that, she was hauled off school property in handcuffs.
After officers with the Overland Park Police Department questioned her, the Westridge Middle School student was slapped with a felony charge for threatening, according to the Kansas City Star. She’ll have her first hearing in juvenile court on Tuesday.
The Sept. 18 incident, described to the Star by an anonymous source, was the result of a student asking the girl who she would kill if she could kill five people. After someone anonymously flagged the incident on an anti-bullying app, all of the students were sent to the principal’s office, according to the Washington Post. A school resource officer employed by the local police department recommended the girl’s arrest.
“I think that this is something that probably could have been handled in the principal’s office and got completely out of hand,” Jon Cavanaugh, the girl’s grandfather in California, told the Star.
He added that didn’t believe his granddaughter had any access to a real gun. “She was just mouthing off.”
But the district, located in Overland Park, Kansas, did not play a direct role in the arrest, according to the Washington Post.
"I want to be very clear: The arrest of this student was wholly unrelated to any district policy. It was a municipal police department decision, and our policies don't impact police department decisions,” Dave Smith, spokesperson for the Shawnee Mission School District, told KSHB-TV, a local NBC affiliate.
School resources officers might be particularly attuned to such behaviors — however non-threatening — in the wake of deadly mass school shootings, such as the February 2018 massacre at a Parkland, Florida, high school, which killed 17 people. Last month, two 13-year-old students within the Shawnee Mission district even brought guns to their middle school and were charged with misdemeanors, according to the Star. They had no apparent intentions of using the guns to hurt anybody, according to the Star.
This is also hardly the first time a kid has been arrested merely for miming a gun with their fingers. A 16-year-old near Miami was arrested in September after he made a TikTok video — similar to many other trending TikTok videos of the same meme — where he pointed his “finger gun” at the name of rival high schools schools and “shot them” off the screen until only the name of his school was left. One of the schools was Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, where the Parkland shooting occurred. The teen was charged with a felony of written threat to kill or cause bodily injury, according to WSVN, a local Fox affiliate.
And in 2015, a first-grader in Colorado Springs was suspended from his school after he pointed his finger-gun at a classmate and said, “You’re dead.”
Cover image: (__iStock / Getty Images Plus)