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Student shot in neck with BB gun at Peabody High
By Jill Harmacinski and Andrew Hickey
Staff writers

PEABODY — A Peabody High School senior was shot in the neck with a BB gun inside the school yesterday morning, prompting a lockdown and a police investigation.

However, elements of the lockdown were expected to be in place today, police and school officials said.

A 17-year-old boy, whose name was not released, was shot in the back of the neck in a main hallway around 8:30 a.m., School Principal Patrick Larkin said. The student went to the school nurse for help, and she notified Larkin. The boy's mother came to the school and took her son to the Beverly Hospital emergency room, he said.

Superintendent Nadine Binkley said the boy was released from the hospital yesterday afternoon and was home resting. She said doctors used a local anesthetic on the teen to surgically remove the BB, which broke the skin and became lodged about an inch above his spine.

"He is doing fine," Binkley said. "He was a very lucky young man. It's very, very scary."

Mayor Michael Bonfanti, who went to the Lowell Street high school when the shooting was reported, said "one student injured is one student too many."

Immediately after the shooting, Larkin activated a schoolwide lockdown, an emergency plan that keeps students in classrooms while teachers and police "sweep the hallways," he said.

During the lock down, Binkley said, police and school officials tried to determine who was in the building when the student was shot, who was out of their classrooms and which students left the school after morning attendance was taken. School officials also searched the lockers of students who were not in class at the time of the shooting, the superintendent said.

Binkley said students and parents can expect a strong police presence at the high school this morning, with officers monitoring the entrances and hallways.

"We're going to do everything we can to ensure that it's a safe environment," she said.

Peabody Police Chief Robert Champagne, in a statement issued last night, said that because of the shooting, no backpacks will be allowed in the high school today.

"Any items that must be transported in a bag, must be transported in a transparent bag," the chief wrote.

In addition, all students and faculty who arrived at the school before 7:45 a.m. today could enter through the front door or the bridge door. Anyone arriving after 7:45 a.m. was to be directed through the front door only, Champagne said yesterday.

Still, Champagne stated, "I emphasize to parents that I believe that Peabody High School is a safe place to send students."

The student who shot the boy had not been arrested as of last night, though both police and Binkley said investigators have a suspect.

"All of the kids are talking," Peabody police Detective Michael Crane said.

Crane said police were still investigating the shooting and interviewing witnesses. He would not say if police recovered the gun. Police would not release additional information late last night.

Principal Larkin said he was confident the boy would be apprehended soon.

"We have a lot of leads, and kids want to help out in a situation like this," he said.

Though all weapons are prohibited on school property, Peabody High does not have metal detectors, Larkin said. Students who bring weapons to school face criminal charges and expulsion, Larkin said.

Binkley said it is Larkin's decision whether to expel the student. If the student is expelled, he can appeal to the superintendent.

"Bringing a weapon to school is a very, very, very serious infringement upon the rules of the high school," she said.

Larkin said he doesn't think the shooting was fueled by gang or athletic rivalry, and suggested the boy may have been shot accidentally or as a prank.

"They may have been fooling around," he said. "I don't think this student was targeted. ... It was very random."

Investigators also initially thought the shooting was an accident, but after further investigation "we're not leaning that way," Crane said, adding that the boy was shot from fairly close range.

Students attended school for only half of the day yesterday so teachers could attend professional development seminars in the afternoon. Students were dismissed early amid a line of police cruisers and unmarked cars parked out front.

Some students said they knew someone was shot with a BB gun, but did not appear fearful. About 2,000 students attend the high school, Larkin said.

Larkin thanked both students and staff for their cooperation yesterday morning, particularly when the school was locked down.

"It all went rather smooth, particularly for something we really haven't practiced," he said.

Crane said BB guns are not classified as firearms, but when used improperly are considered dangerous weapons. Crane added that anyone 18 or older can buy and possess a BB or pellet gun without a firearms identification card. Teenagers 15 to 17 years old need an FID and parental consent to purchase firearms.

Witnesses sought

Peabody police are asking anyone with information about yesterday's BB gun shooting at the high school to call school safety officer Mario Alves at (978) 538-6365, or the detectives division at (978) 538-6364.

Callers' identities will be kept confidential.

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Mayor Michael Bonfanti, who went to the Lowell Street high school when the shooting was reported, said "one student injured is one student too many."
Fortunately the injuries were not serious in this incident. What is the Mayor going to do at a school shooting but get in the way and give his two sense when not needed? It is like town officials showing up at serious crime scenes, accidents, and fires. Stay away and shut the scanner off! Stay at city hall unless your called. If it is reported as a school shooting, nobody other than the police/fire/emts should be there. Even parents should be set up at an off-site location :roll:

Off topic from the school shooting, but it relates to town officials meddling where they are not supposed to be endangering themselves/others:

In the town I used to work for the former Town Administrator on a regular basis would call in or stop to assist DMV's on the highway when he was out in his car or on his way home 7 towns away (had a crown vic with strobes). He would block streets if there was an accident, call the highway department on the air reporting potholes, and beat the fire department to calls to report if anything was going on. The worst was one day there was an accident and life flight was going to land in the town center. He arrives a solid three minutes before the engine company and proclaims, "The landing zone is secure" WTF :shock:...

Back on topic, glad to hear there were no injuries and let the police and school officials handle the incident...
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