Chicago high school student Darnell Hamilton was arrested Tuesday after police discovered a gun in his school locker.
The 4.0 GPA junior told police he only brought the gun to school to protect himself from the gangs that have harassed him for years.
Hamilton attends Urban Prep Charter Academy on the West Side of Chicago. His mother, LaDonna Petty, says he faces the harassment to and from his way to school.
“They wait for him when he gets off the train,” she said.
This week, however, Hamilton was hoping for something different after obtaining the gun from a friend on Friday in order to protect himself from the gangs who had threatened to kill him, according to the teen.
The weapon was spotted by another student who promptly reported it to the principal. The principal called the police who searched Hamilton’s locker and found a 9mm semi-automatic pistol in his backpack with a magazine full of eight rounds. School officials later said the gun was not loaded, according to Guns.com
Hamilton was charged as an adult for two felonies: unlawful use of a weapon and possession of a firearm in school.
“The surrounding communities around our West Side campus have its issues and certainly our students may face challenges going to and from school,” Evan Lewis, chief operating officer for Urban Prep Academies, said. “But those challenges are no different than other students attending urban school. We provide security at all our campuses and one thing I can tell you is we had no issues with Mr. Hamilton at the school.”
Police told the Chicago Tribune that Hamilton had no gang affiliation.
Hamilton has a 4.0 GPA and was already guaranteed a scholarship at Ohio State University. But he still had hopes of attending Duke University or Howard University to study computer engineering.
Petty said she moved out of the city years ago to protect her son from the violence, but they had to move back once she lost her job. She hopes that the incident does not stop Hamilton from graduating.
“What are you supposed to do when you live in the city and your child is afraid?” she said. “He made a bad choice and he wanted to protect himself. He said it will never happen again.”
Hamilton made his first court appearance on Wednesday. His bail is set at $75,000.
Sources: Guns.com, Chicago Tribune