An 11-year-old boy, Caden Cook, was suspended from school for voluntarily turning in a non-firing plastic toy gun to school personnel.
Fredrick Funston Elementary School in Chicago instituted a random pat-down screening procedure as part of its security at the beginning of the school year, reports The Rutherford Institute, which has come to Cook's defense in the matter.
All students are physically separated from their bags and randomly chosen for pat-downs before going through metal detectors. Bags are also searched at random.
Caden Cook, a sixth-grader, had forgotten he held a plastic toy gun he had played with the previous night in his sweater pocket while waiting in line at school security. He alerted school security personnel, explained he accidentally brought the toy gun to school and relinquished it to security.
Cook was doing the right thing, but the school did not see it that way.
School officials allegedly subjected Cook to intimidation tactics, interrogation, accusations of lying, and threats. His mother was not present, nor had she been informed of the incident. When she did arrive, she was allegedly berated and criticized for allowing her son to play with toy guns, reports The Examiner.
"This case speaks volumes about what's wrong with our public schools and public officials: Rather than school officials showing they are capable of exercising good judgment, distinguishing between what is and is not a true threat, and preserving safety while steering clear of a lockdown mindset better suited to a prison environment, they instead opted to exhibit poor judgment, embrace heavy-handed tactics, and treat a toy gun like a dangerous weapon," said John W. Whitehead, president of The Rutherford Institute. "In the process, school officials sent a strong, chilling message to this child and his classmates that they have no rights in the American police state."
Cook was suspended from school for violating the school's weapons policy against dangerous objects. He has also been ordered to undergo counseling.
The Rutherford Institute attorneys have called for the suspension to be rescinded and the incident be removed from Cook's record.
Canadian child Elias Pyrros, 11, was recently one wrong move away from becoming the next Andy Lopez. Lopez, you will remember, was shot and killed by California police in October after being spotted playing with a gun that turned out be a toy replica AK-47. The two boys' stories are uncannily similar.
Pyrros was playing with a plastic handgun in a neighborhood alley when a concerned neighbor spotted the gun and called police. Pyrros had wrapped his fake gun in black duct tape, covering the bright orange tip designed to help onlookers differentiate between toy and real guns.
When police arrived at the alley, they jumped out of their cars with guns drawn.
“They told me to freeze in French and come here, so I put my hands up,” said Pyrros. “I was really scared.”
Elias’ mother Eva Drakos spoke to Global Montreal about what could have happened to her son had he not followed police orders.
“If he didn’t freeze and didn’t do what they said, they would have shot my child,” she said.
While Drakos is grateful that police didn’t shoot her son, she is upset about how officers handled the situation afterwards. Rather than talking to Elias and releasing him to his mother, officers put him in the back of a squad car for 20 minutes and wouldn’t let Drakos near him.
“They wouldn’t let me go near my child. He didn’t do anything wrong. I’m outraged, I’m furious that this could happen to an innocent 11-year-old child,” said Drakos.
Now, sixth grade Elias is having serious problems sleeping and concentrating in school. Staring down the barrel of a gun is traumatizing for anyone, let alone an 11-year-old.
“I can’t concentrate, I always think about when they were pointing guns at me,” Pyrros said. “The way they were pointing the guns at me, I was really terrified.”
His parents, while grateful their child is alive, are considering filing a complaint with the Montreal police ethics commission. Criminal defense attorney Eric Sutton says that although the officers did a good job not shooting the child, their handling of him afterwards was poor.
“Once they determined that, they should have proceeded with great dispatch to release him, explain maybe the risks perhaps even apologize for the trauma he must have felt but to then handcuff him and detain him is indefensible,” Sutton said.
Drakos, as you would hope, has said she will now throw away all of her children's toy guns.
A 9-year-old boy in Michigan has been suspended indefinitely for bringing a toy that looks like a gun to school.
Gage, a student at the Creative Montessori Academy in Southgate, reportedly brought the toy to school, showed it to his friends before class, and pointed it at a friend while saying “bang, bang.”
Gage’s parents allege that the toy didn’t even resemble a firearm, but it was merely a spinning top that he brought to school to show his friends. Also, the other students involved say that Gage never actually said “bang, bang,” and that the teacher who reported the incident was wrong.
The parents say that their son suffers from epilepsy, and that he needs to be in school in order fully comprehend reading and writing. They say the indefinite suspension is not conducive to Gage’s education and continued progression.
“They’re kids, they have imaginations,” said Gage’s father Jonathan Duff. “It doesn’t look like a gun.”
Officials at the Creative Montessori Academy, however, are claiming that the parents’ story is not entirely true. They say that the toy did in fact resemble a gun, and they have the pictures to prove it. They say the toy shown in the Fox 2 news report video is not the toy that was used on the day of the incident, adding that their zero tolerance policy for this sort of thing is upheld.
“The actual toy did actually resemble a gun,” said Tonya Holcomb, chief communications director for Choice Schools Associate. “This is a case of a look-alike weapon reported to be used as a toy gun.”
The school also claims that the boy was only suspended for one day, so the parents’ claim that he is suspended indefinitely is also false.
You can see the original Fox 2 news report below.
The federal district of Brazil will ban all toy and replica guns by 2014 in an effort to reduce violent crime.
Brazil is victim to high homicide rates, with many of its inhabitants experiencing some kind of armed assault.
Stores found selling toy guns will face fines up to $45,000. Some stores may be closed up to 30 days or even lose their trading licenses.
Valéria de Velasco, minister for the protection of victims of violence in the state government, said that while toy guns don’t kill they do symbolize an attitude toward gun violence. The law is an attempt to create a non-violent cultural perspective for children.
Many Brazilian parents are excited to see the law enacted, including domestic maid and mother of three Neide do Nascimento.
"I think it's marvelous," she said. “We lost a lot of time. We lost a lot of lives."
Nascimento’s 17-year-old daughter Pollyane Araujo was riding a bus in 2008 when two armed men robbed it. The men used her as a shield when they attempted to get into their runaway vehicle.
Nascimento said the law should include a ban of violent video games, noting that there is already enough violence in every day life.
A man in San Jose, California is about to get a lot of money.
The man, Javier Gonzales-Guerrero, now 27-years old, was passed out drunk on the stairs of an Extended Stay Deluxe Hotel when police approached him to get him up. Guerrero was dressed up as a surgeon for Halloween, and had a gold toy gun tucked in his waistband as part of his costume.
When authorities arrived on the scene and attempted to wake the intoxicated Guerrero, they saw the toy gun, assumed it was real, and thought that he was reaching for it. Guerrero was shot more than 20 times by the officers, suffering from many injuries and having to undergo multiple surgeries to repair his “ravaged body.” He was just 25 at the time, and he miraculously survived the shooting because of the surgeries he underwent.
Guerrero filed a lawsuit with the city of San Jose not long after the incident, and the city has now settled for nearly $5 million.
According to the lawsuit, the police officers, who have been identified as Gary Petrakovitz, Tim Stephens, Brian Johst, and Mark Stephens, allegedly ignored Guerrero when he pleaded with them not to shoot.
Guerrero claimed that the officers acted as a result of poor training, but the San Jose assistant police chief disagreed, saying that the officers can’t just assume that a perceived firearm is a toy, and have to act on the situation in just seconds.
Officials have said that had the city not settled with Guerrero and actually gone to trial, they would have faced “considerable financial risk if a jury were to side with the plaintiff.”
The incident originally occurred in October of 2011, and the suit against the city was filed in July of 2012.
Three teens allegedly tried to rob an elderly woman in McKees Rocks, Pennsylvania on Tuesday.
“She said one of the three pointed a small, silver pistol at her chest while the other demanded she give up her money,” McKees Rocks Police Chief Robert Cifrulak told CBS Pittsburgh (video below).
“She explained she was a former educator and she just stared them down, sort of drew a line in the sand. And their response was to start laughing at her and walk away, which allowed her to finish her call to 9-1-1.”
Later, police arrested the three teen suspects a short distance away. During the arrest, police found that the gun was not real.
“It was a toy, but as you can see, it looks very realistic. It has the stamping of a real gun. It looks like the real deal, and it was interesting to note that it’s been modified, the barrel. All toys would have a full orange plug that even extends outward so it can be readily identified as a toy. This one was modified to hide that, conceal that and look more realistic," said Chief Cifrulak.
Source: CBS Pittsburgh
A California woman suspected of killing her girlfriend was shot to death by police after she pulled a toy gun on officers who were on patrol.
Friends of 35-year-old Jessica Gonzalez believe her death was the result of “suicide-by-cop.” According to authorities, Gonzalez approached two officers with the toy gun in an alley. Not realizing the gun was a fake, the officers opened fire. Gonzalez was taken to a local hospital where she was later pronounced dead.
Gonzalez had been on the move after allegedly killing her girlfriend of 13 years, 44-year-old Jennifer Solorio, outside of the couple’s apartment on Thursday afternoon, The Daily Mail reported.
“Jessica and Jennifer have been together 13 years and Jennifer had a friend over for like, two days, said neighbor Edgar Lopez. "[Jessica] thought that [Jennifer] was cheating on her.”
Witnesses said Solario was trying to leave the building with a box of clothing when Gonzalez shot her four times.
Gonzalez’ friend, Sonia Martinez, said she spent Saturday with the alleged killer.
“I seen [sic] her yesterday. As a matter of fact, I had her with me all day yesterday,” Martinez said. “When everything was on the run, I had her with me. I didn’t care. She was a sweetheart that snapped.”
She added: “Jessica wanted to kill herself. She laid right there with Jennifer, but she didn’t have anymore guns ... no bullets.”
Licha McLellen said that Gonzalez was her sister.
“We loved her. She was a human, and we know that she’s resting in peace right now,” she said.
Pop star Britney Spears is facing criticism and it’s not for her music. At least one anti-gun group is taking Spears to task after her son was photographed playing with a toy gun in a California hotel earlier this month.
Jayden Spears, 6, was seen holding a plastic gun while the family was visiting the Four Seasons in Westlake Village, Calif. Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America apparently does not approve of Britney’s parenting abilities, Guns.com reported.
Shannon Watts, the group’s founder, talked about Jayden holding the gun.
“As parents it is our responsibility to set a good example for our children, and as a celebrity parent it is especially important. Jayden was photographed not just playing with any toy gun,” Watts said. “It looks like an assault weapon. It is very disappointing to see Britney allowing her young son to play with such a violent toy.”
The photo shouldn’t come as a surprise at all, really. Britney is from Louisiana, a state that has fairly loose gun laws, and she’s also been seen with a (fake) firearm herself.
This is a picture from the video of her song “Criminal.”
Last week, a ten-year-old Alexandria, Virginia, boy was arrested and charged with brandishing a weapon, according to The Washington Examiner. This is a very serious charge that will stick with the boy. The “weapon” that the fifth-grader brought to school was a plastic toy gun with a bright orange cap on the end of the barrel. He never threatened anyone with it, and never pointed it at anyone.
This boy now has a criminal record. For the rest of his life, he may have to disclose that he was arrested, even if his juvenile file is sealed for most other purposes—just for bringing a toy gun to school.
After the recent school tragedy, it is understandable that school administrators are on edge about guns in schools, but it does not excuse them from being rational.
There have been a number of incidents involving fake or imaginary guns in schools recently. Kids have been suspended from school for bubble guns, Nerf guns, Lego guns, pictures of guns, and fingers pointed like a gun and saying “pow,” just to name a few. One thing those incidents have in common is that the school handled them internally. It can be debated whether the schools overreacted by suspending the students, but at least they didn’t call the police.
A police record can have a damaging affect on a person’s life. This charge can potentially affect the high school jobs he can get, the places he can live, and the college he attends. This isolated incident may even affect the jobs he can get after college; especially if he chooses to be a teacher, doctor, lawyer, law enforcement officer, or join the military.
Does it make sense to potentially alter this ten-year-old boy’s future in so serious a manner, all because he brought a toy gun to school? If he attempted to pass the gun off as real and used it in a threatening manner, that would be a different matter, but adults and kids generally also know that an orange cap means it is a toy.
However, it was still foolish of the child to bring this particular toy to school. A reprimand or other internal school disciplinary action would be in order, but, in this case, there is nothing to suggest that he harbored any criminal intent or meant to harm anyone.
Everything that we do should serve a purpose. What purpose does arresting and charging this ten-year-old child serve? It doesn’t protect anyone—no one was ever in danger. It may deter the boy and his classmates from bringing toy guns to school—but a suspension would have as well.
The criminal law must be reserved for serious wrong-doers with criminal intent, not foolish children who bring their toys to school. Charges like these needlessly label children as criminals and may set them up for unwarranted struggles in life or perhaps, if they spend time in jail associating with and befriending real criminals, a life of real crime.