Nakicha Gilbert, whose 10-year-old son was charged with brandishing a weapon by Alexandria police earlier this month following an incident involving a toy gun on a school bus, criticized the case’s handling in a story Monday in The Washington Post.
“This is how kids get caught up in the system,” Gilbert told the Post, adding that she still has not received a clear explanation of why police were called and why her son was taken into custody.
* See Patch's previous story: MacArthur Student Handed Weapons Charge Following Toy Gun Incident
According to the report, Gilbert’s son took a toy gun purchased at a dollar store out of his backpack on a bus ride from Douglas MacArthur Elementary School on Feb. 4 and placed it in a pocket in his pants. At least two children saw the gun, one of which told her mother about the incident.
That child’s mother, Rebecca Edwards, then alerted school officials about the incident and expressed concerns for her children’s safety.
MacArthur officials viewed video of the bus ride after receiving the call. The next morning at school, Gilbert’s son had his backpack searched. The toy gun was discovered and the police were notified, according to the Post.
The toy gun had an orange tip, according to a Feb. 5 release from the Alexandria Police Department. In that release, the APD said officers arrived at the school before students arrived.
“If we were able to investigate right away, the outcome might have been different,” APD spokesman Jody Donaldson told the Post.
The 10-year-old was taken to court, fingerprinted and photographed. He was given a probation officer and has another court date scheduled. Alexandria City Public Schools officials said they were following local policies and state laws following Edwards’ phone call, according to the Post report.
Gilbert’s son was suspended 10 days with a recommendation for expulsion. His suspension was later cut short following a school hearing. He now attends a different school.
Jackie Surratt, chair of the Alexandria chapter of the NAACP’s community coordination committee, told Patch on Monday that, at Gilbert’s request, he participated in a “fact-finding session” with ACPS Superintendent Morton Sherman’s staff about the incident. The student is African American.
“After all is said and done, it was a terrible mishandling,” Surratt said.
Surratt, who reached out to help ACPS interim education students earlier this school year, said the NAACP chapter plans to release a statement about the handling of the incident soon.