by Kelsey Watts, KHQ Local News Anchor/Reporter - bio | email
SPOKANE VALLEY, Wash - Centennial Middle School was forced to lockdown for about 40 minutes Monday morning, all because two airsoft guns were brought to school. Two 7th grade boys have been "emergency expelled," and it's not clear when – or if – they'll be allowed to return.
"It's very scary, because these days you hear of all the bad things that happen in schools, and it's kind of sad that it's gotten to this point," said Darci Wakeman, the mother of an 8th grader at Centennial.
It all started when a fellow student spotted what she thought were real guns inside a backpack, inside the locker of one of the boys. She told school administrators, who then locked down campus and called police.
"She is the hero in this because she did exactly what we hope students will do, which is report something that is threatening or suspicious," said West Valley Schools spokesperson Sue Shields.
The lockdown began just after school had started around 9 am. We're told students were never in any danger, and continued their lessons inside their classrooms during the lockdown period.
It took police to determine the two guns were airsoft pistols – fakes that shoot pellets, not bullets. While they can still cause welts and bruising, they are not deadly weapons.
But to look at them, you'd never know. They look exactly like the real thing – even to police.
"If any law enforcement officer saw this without knowing about it, they'd end up shooting them," said Spokane Valley Police Sgt. Mark Nygren.
He said the principal difference is the airsoft gun is lighter, and uses a different caliber of pellet. But laying a real service pistol next to the fake, you couldn't decipher which was which.
While students were in lockdown, the two 7th grade boys were taken into custody. Police say one had to be arrested because he pulled away from police when they came for him.
Their names are not being released, and while their parents were in touch with school officials today, it's not clear whether they knew the boys had the fake guns. It's also not yet clear whether the boys made any threats, whether they planned to use the guns, or if they've faced disciplinary problems in the past.
A letter went home with every student explaining what happened.
The boys are being automatically expelled for 3-10 days, and then a review will determine whether more time is needed, or if the students will not be allowed to return to Centennial Middle School.
Because the guns are spring-loaded and don't use compressed gas, and because they were never displayed, police are still working to determine whether the students will face any charges.
"They look real, so they are very scary," Wakeman added. "It's a relief to know it's not something more serious than that, but it is very scary now to have children in school because you hear about incidents where it could be a real gun."
SPOKANE VALLEY, Wash. - Two 7th grade boys face possible expulsion after bringing two 'airsoft' handguns to Centennial Middle School in Spokane Valley on Monday.
Authorities told KHQ's Trevor Smith at the scene that rumors were circulating among students at school that a classmate was in possession of a pistol. School officials immediately called 911 and locked down the students in their classrooms.
Police and school officials searched the locker of the rumored student and found two airsoft pistols, unloaded, in his backpack. That student and his friend were brought into the office for questioning where they admitted to bringing the guns to school so that they could use them together right after school got out.
No one was hurt and no one will be arrested because the weapons did not use compressed gas to fire, authorities say.
One student will be charged with obstructing with the investigation but he was sent home with his parents. Both students will face disciplinary actions by West Valley School District including the possibility of being expelled.
The lockdown began at 9:10 a.m. and lasted 40 minutes. All the students were locked in their classrooms, sitting up against the wall with he curtains closed. A situation that West Valley school officials tell KHQ that students routinely drill.
Look for complete coverage of this story on KHQ Local News at 5.
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