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Prairie City News

Lifelike BB guns spring false alarm at PCM

Three lifelike BB handguns caused a brief scare and quick action by administration at PCM High School March 28 after staff were notified about possible weapons in two separate cars on the campus in Monroe.

Police Chief Nick Chambers confirmed March 29 on the Monroe Police Department’s official Facebook page that law enforcement was notified during school hours about the possibility of firearms on high school grounds.

PCM superintendent Brad Jermeland alerted police about the weapons after it was reported the morning of March 29. With help from PCM staff, law enforcement were able to gain access to the vehicles, remove the BB guns and confirm they were not firearms.

Police confiscated two airsoft BB guns and a CO2 BB gun pistol and held them at the police department, but later released one to the 18-year-old and the other to the parents of the 17-year-old after school.

According to PCM school board policy, the BB guns did not meet the district’s criteria to be considered firearms. The projectile would have to discharge from a combustible propellant to qualify as a firearm. Jermeland said the students were cooperative with PCM staff and police, and he said he believes leaving the BB Guns in the cars was an oversight by the two students.

No charges or citations were filed in the incident. School districts around Iowa and the U.S. have become more sensitive to reporting the possibility of weapons since the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., last month and with the national debate since surrounding school safety and gun control. Jermeland said this is also the case at PCM, and he encouraged any student, staff member or resident to come forward if they come across something that could be perceived as a threat to school safety.

In an interview March 29, Chambers said he felt it was important to clearly lay out the facts of the incident to dispel misinformation and calm any fears of PCM parents.

“There could have been rumors circulating about guns at the school, so I wanted to put it out there on Facebook to defuse any rumors,” Chambers said.

Police said there was no threat or safety issue facing PCM students. Chambers said the BB guns belonged to “good students” who were using them to shoot frogs down by a pond after school. The teens told police they forgot the BB guns were in their vehicles.

In his post, Chambers uploaded a photograph of one of the BB guns confiscated at PCM. The chief said he did this to illustrate how lifelike a toy or BB gun can look without the orange plastic tip typically attached by toy manufacturers.

“(What) I would the citizens to be aware of is ... why toy guns have orange safety tips is so they can be identified as not being real,” Chambers wrote. “When a safety tip is removed it is very hard to determine a real gun from a toy gun.”

Contact Mike Mendenhall at mmendenhall@monroelegacy.com

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