Parents express concerns over gun being found at Gretna Middle School

Published: May. 11, 2023 at 5:48 PM EDT
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GRETNA, Va. (WDBJ) - A gun was found in a trash can at Gretna Middle School Wednesday. A student was arrested and no one was injured, but parents are frustrated that they were not told about the incident until school ended for the day.

A teacher found the gun in a trashcan in the bathroom after being told about the weapon by another student.

“As soon as our principal was aware of it, the item was confiscated immediately,” said Dr. Mark Jones, Pittsylvania County Superintendent. “There was no ammunition with this weapon. Very quickly, they identified the student involved, and we quickly notified our Sheriff’s Department.”

The Sheriff’s Office was notified about the incident around noon. The parents were not notified until 4 that afternoon - allowing the school day to finish as normal.

“I was heartbroken that some kids had to go through this,” said Felicia Burkhardt, Gretna Middle School parent. “I was mad and angry that I hadn’t heard anything.”

“It made me mad at first how there could be a child at school with a gun, any kind of weapon at all, and no parents know about it with no lockdown,” said Heather Childress, Gretna Middle School parent. “But, at the same time, I just wanted to hug them because it could have turned out a lot worse.”

The superintendent says they followed the crisis management plan and did not go on lockdown due to how quickly the situation was handled.

“We feel confident that our students were safe and then, secondarily, we feel like we followed a process that we felt was best at the time,” added Dr. Jones.

Pittsylvania County plans to increase safety by adding School Resource Officers to every school in the county. They currently have one at each middle and high school.

“It’s one of those things that keeps you up at night, worrying about, should we have these things, are we prepared?” said Mike Taylor, Pittsylvania County Sheriff. “There’s a lot of variables in these incidents, but yesterday it had a good outcome. No one was hurt. So, it’s just something we have to be cognizant of every day.”

The student was arrested and charged with possession of a firearm on school property and brandishing a firearm, and is being held at W.W. Moore.