Family, friends defend kindergartener who brought loaded gun to school

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ALIQUIPPA, Pa. - Police and Aliquippa school officials said a kindergarten student brought a loaded gun to school Monday.

Aliquippa Police Chief Donald Couch Jr. said the loaded .22-caliber revolver was found Monday morning inside a backpack, but they are sure the student meant no harm.

Superintendent David Wytiaz told parents that another student told a teacher about the weapon inside a backpack.

Administrators at Aliquippa Elementary School secured the firearm and turned it over to Aliquippa police.

“It's a very unique situation,” Police Chief Donald Couch Jr. said. “As far as the circumstances, how it got there, I can't go into that.”

Police have contacted the child's mother and her boyfriend to determine whether any criminal charges are warranted. The gun came from the boy's home and is registered to someone born in 1914 who police think is dead.

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Tom Wolf visited the school that day at around 2:15 p.m.

“I can stress that at no time were any students in danger,” Couch said. “We are definitely sure there was no ill will by the student towards anyone.”

Wytiaz reiterated that point.

“We believe at this point, there was no threat made or anything like that,” Wytiaz said. “The gun was removed without anyone seeing it.”

Channel 11’s Gordon Loesch reported the child who had the gun is 5 or 6 years old.

The boy’s family told Channel 11’s Courtney Brennan that the boy wasn’t being aggressive. He simply was trying to protect his younger brothers.

“For them to say he’s aggressive, that’s a lie,” said his godmother, Nicole Lutle. “It’s not that this child was bad. It’s not that this child had a temper because all of that is a lie.”

According to Lutle and other family friends, the boy found the gun on a bed inside his apartment in the Linmar Terrace housing complex Sunday night.

“He picked it up because he didn’t want his little brother to get to it,” Lutle said. “He knew his little brother wouldn’t go through his book bag, so he put it in his book bag and forgot it was in there.

The boy’s younger brother is 3 years old.

“He’s a very sweet kid. He wasn’t taking the gun to school to hurt anyone,” Lutle said.               

Lutle doesn't condone what happened but said this kindergartener and his siblings need help.

“We have to show these kids more love because if we don’t show them, what do they think they have?" she said.

On Tuesday, several parents told Channel 11’s Gordon Loesch that they’re angry and fearful after the incident.

“My son, they all ride the bus together. I feel really scared for him,” said Darryce McCoy.

A letter was sent home to parents Tuesday, but some said they should have been notified sooner.

“That’s not good enough. We need to know when it happens,” Smith said.

The Associated Press and Channel 11’s news exchange partners at TribLIVE contributed to this report.