Loaded gun found in student’s backpack was brought from home, not found at bus stop

Gloria Kakisha Shoffner, of Burlington

Gloria Kakisha Shoffner, of Burlington

BURLINGTON, N.C. — Burlington Police said Friday that an investigation determined the loaded gun brought to Smith Elementary School on Wednesday was not found at a bus stop as previously believed.

Detectives said the gun was obtained by the juvenile from an unsecured area the juvenile’s home.

Gloria Kakisha Shoffner, of Burlington, was arrested and charged with failing to properly store a firearm to protect a minor. She was confined at the Alamance County Jail under a $20,000 secured bond.

Police did not disclose Shoffner’s relationship to the juvenile.

Police say the child initially told investigators he found the gun at his bus stop near Apple St., put it in his backpack and took it to Smith Elementary.

“It’s a scary experience when you’re talking about a kid with a loaded gun on campus,” said Chad Laws, a school resource officer who was one of the first to respond to the emergency Wednesday.

Laws described his surprise after getting the call that a child had a real gun at an elementary school.

“It was extremely shocking to me because it is not something we deal with on a daily basis.”

Laws said they’ve dealt with air guns, BB guns, drugs and alcohol on school campuses. “Very rarely do we find an actual firearm,” he pointed out.

Like Burlington, most school systems in the Triad have officers at middle and high schools daily.

In most counties, those SRO’s share duties at the elementary level. No school systems we spoke to have the resources to station officers at every elementary school every day.

Burlington’s elementary officer position works at multiple schools and is funded by a state grant.

The officer was at Smith Elementary Wednesday investigating a separate case of bullying when information about the gun came out.

Laws said situations like this emphasize the need for SRO’s in schools. “I think it really reassures the parents that there is that extra layer of security on our campuses when they see an officer there, when they’re dropping kids off in the morning, picking kids up in the afternoon.”

“It could have turned out a whole lot differently than it did,” he added.

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