Police arrested a 12-year-old girl last month who made a “gun symbol” out of her fingers and pointed it at classmates at her Overland Park, Kansas school.
Johnson County District Court court documents recently obtained by local media outlets shine few details on the incident.
According to those documents, Overland Park Police say the Westridge Middle School student on Sept. 18 “unlawfully and feloniously communicated a threat to commit violence, with the intent to place another, in fear, or with the intent to cause the evacuation, lock down or disruption in regular, ongoing activities.”
An anonymous source who witnessed the incident spoke to the Kansas City Star.
The person said that during a class discussion, another student asked the girl, if she could kill five people in the class, who would they be? In response, the girl allegedly pointed her finger pistol — like the ones many children use playing cops and robbers.
The gesture led to the student being sent to Principal Jeremy McDonnell’s office. Following her visit with the principal, a school resource officer arrested the student, NBC affiliate KSHB reported.
She was hauled out of the building in handcuffs, according to the Star.
The Johnson County District Attorney’s Office soon after filed charges.
The girl is scheduled to appear at a hearing at Juvenile Division of the District Court of Johnson County on Tuesday.
A spokesperson for the Shawnee Mission School District told KSHB that the arrest 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, the spokesman, said.
Jon Cavanaugh, the girl’s grandfather, told the Star he believes the situation could have been resolved in a more low-key manner.
“I think that this is something that probably could have been handled in the principal’s office and got completely out of hand,” he said.
He told the Star his granddaughter does not have access to guns and that she didn’t intend to hurt anyone.
But Smith, the school’s spokesman, said classmates could have taken the girl’s “finger gun” motion as a gesture of intimidation.
“I might not have anything in my hand but I might be so clear that the individual definitely feels threatened,” Smith told the Star.
Cavanaugh told the Star his granddaughter could face up to a year in a juvenile detention center.
“I’m really worried about my granddaughter’s future,” he said.
Not the first finger gun controversy
Earlier this year, a Pennsylvania state appeals court on upheld a man’s misdemeanor conviction for pointing a finger gun at his neighbor during an argument.
Stephen Kirchner, 64, was found guilty of disorderly conduct and ordered to pay a $100 fine plus court costs, WGAL reported. The Pennsylvania Superior Court ruled in August that his gun-like gesture “served no legitimate purpose, and recklessly risked provoking a dangerous altercation.”
“We conclude that there was sufficient evidence that Kirchner’s act of mimicking his shooting [his neighbor Josh] Klingseisen created a hazardous condition,” Judge Maria McLaughlin wrote.
Kirchner had fought the case for more than a year. He argued that his actions were too minimal to be considered criminal and that he had no interest to cause “public alarm” or create “hazardous conditions.”