Gunn student, 18, arrested in Palo Alto after lockdown Crimes & Incidents, posted by Editor, Palo Alto Online, on May 27, 2010 at 3:22 pm
An 18-year-old Gunn High School student, Weston Healy, was arrested Thursday afternoon for possession of a weapon on a school campus, following a dramatic police lockdown of the south Palo Alto facility.
Read the full story here Web Link posted Friday, May 28, 2010, 9:50 AM
Posted by JD, a resident of the Midtown neighborhood, on May 27, 2010 at 3:34 pm
That was scary. I just spent 30 minutes texting with my daughter while she hid under a desk. Heard 2 kids were held at gunpoint and taken away in cuffs. They should know better than to bring Airguns to school-just asking for trouble. Poor kids are really shaken up and so was I!
Posted by Jonathan, a member of the Gunn High School community, on May 27, 2010 at 3:37 pm
It was pretty scary. I was locked into a science classroom with some other students, trying to look for information on facebook and palo alto online on my phone. Everybody was sort of nervous, and we weren't told anything other than that we should stay inside with the lights off, like a Code Red. I still don't know much; I had heard everything in this article just from random conversations I overheard while leaving campus afterward.
Posted by gunn parent, a resident of the Ventura neighborhood, on May 27, 2010 at 3:37 pm
My daughter saw a female student being handcuffed in the student activity center. Police broke through the barricade, told everyone to get on the floor, and then called out for the student (by name) and arrested her.
My daughter was traumatized and no counselors were around to debrief the scared students.
I wonder if the doors can be locked without a key for code red situations.
Posted by Johnathan, a resident of the Leland Manor/Garland Drive neighborhood, on May 27, 2010 at 3:38 pm
I was so scared. There were cops everywhere. People said it was a bomb. I really thought I was gonna die that die, with the other terrified kids in our dark, holed-up classroom. People were afraid to breathe.
Posted by ryan teranishi, a member of the Gunn High School community, on May 27, 2010 at 3:53 pm
Those two kids happened to be in the room I was in, and man those cops came in loud with their rifles up. That was pretty intense, but I don't know what the fuss is all about I mean everyone was overreacting. Those two kids are nice guys, just happened to do something stupid. Oh well, everyone should just go back to doing their homework and stuff. Got finals coming up... Woohoo!
Posted by Parent of a Gunn Student, a member of the Gunn High School community, on May 27, 2010 at 3:57 pm
1) [Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.] At 18 they should darned well know better than to bring ANYTHING resembling a real weapon to school. Even PAUSD elementary school students know that fake guns are prohibited even as part of Halloween costumes. This was a gigantic failure in judgement on their part, and they should face real consequences.
2) Unless students were explicitly informed that "cell phones interfere with police transmissions", how would students even know they are allegedly "not authorized to use them"? Gee, I suppose texting or twittering "I just saw a guy come down the hall in X building with a gun, plz send police this way ASAP" is a bad idea, according to "anonymous"?
Posted by anonymous, a resident of the Community Center neighborhood, on May 27, 2010 at 4:01 pm
The truth is, she was just calling her mom to tell her not to pick her up because of the code red. The student told her mom that their was a armed person around the campus. The mom started to freak out, because s he made a mistake thinking her daughter saw the armed "men" So she quickly, like what every mom would do, called the police. Then the police came to the SAC and knocked all the desks/ couches down to find the student. I was right there next to her too.
Posted by Student, a member of the Gunn High School community, on May 27, 2010 at 4:03 pm
To Parent of a Gunn Student:
It appears from what was written above that it was a case of miscommunication. The student didn't actually bring it onto Gunn, but only into the parking lot. I don't think the school has grounds for expulsion.
It appears someone saw him put a gun in his trunk and panicked.
Posted by Michael, a resident of the College Terrace neighborhood, on May 27, 2010 at 4:12 pm
This is ridiculous. This thing would shoot plastic BBs at a max of 400 FPS... The worst case scenario would be taking someone's eye out but that would only be possible at point blank. I've been hit by these things and yeah, it stings a little, if you're too close it will leave a welt but nothing serious. This is not a weapon; it's a toy. Yeah, they're dumb for bringing it to school but the school greatly overreacted by involving the police.
Posted by Ackster, a resident of the Barron Park neighborhood, on May 27, 2010 at 4:17 pm
They did nothing wrong. Everyone should have the right to own and carry a gun around as they please. I feel they should not be punished because they are merely exemplifying what they believe. Everyone overreacted and is making way too big a deal out of it.
Posted by BePrepared, a resident of the Barron Park neighborhood, on May 27, 2010 at 4:33 pm
Seems kind of funny in a way. A couple of years ago my daughter went to one of Gunn's many many many "costume" events as a cowgirl and I suggested she take my old toy cap pistol. My husband fortunately intervened. I guess she would've been slammed up against the wall, cuffed and arrested. All in all, it's better to be safe than sorry ... but man, how things have changed since I was a kid running around shooting caps from a realistic looking gun!
Posted by Gunn student, a member of the Gunn High School community, on May 27, 2010 at 4:38 pm
"Whoever your daughter was, she was not authorized to use a cellphone at that time as it interferes with police transmissions. You know, for the next time this happens."
[Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff]. If that were true then nobody should be allowed to use a cell phone EVER because why would cellphones interfere with police transmissions in this situation but not day to day life?
Posted by lunchlady, a resident of the Esther Clark Park neighborhood, on May 27, 2010 at 4:49 pm
I don't fault the police- they only knew that there was a gun sighting and they were trying to make sure there wasn't a massacre. Everyone is half expecting another traintrack suicide during finals so a gun incident isn't such a stretch from that.
Remember that if had been a real gun some folks would be ready to jump on the police for not being more aggressive.
Second amendment or not I'm not for lots of people openly carrying around handguns or rifles. We aren't having to defend ourselves from bears and lions. The chance of an accidental injury to self or others from carrying a gun is probably greater than the the chance of effectively defending yourself with a gun, so I choose not to have a gun. Some people want to walk around with a gun just in case, I guess that's okay if they can obey the laws while doing it, but I'm glad there aren't a lot of those people.
Posted by MB, a member of the Gunn High School community, on May 27, 2010 at 4:57 pm
Everyone needs to stop being so insensitive about the emotions that were running through all the students and staff during this event. So many of you are claiming our school overreacted, and we made a big deal out of nothing. When the lockdown started, and the police came to our school, not a single person except for the two students responsible knew that these objects were airsoft rather than real. The police did not get the information that the weapons were fake until later on in the event, and only a small number of students locked in rooms found out about it at the end of the lock-down. All of us were scared in some way. For all we knew, there could have been two students running around with rifles injuring and possibly even killing other students. The situation was handled exactly as it should have been with the information that was known at the time. Everyone just needs to stop being so insensitive, and just be grateful that the situation turned out to be less severe than initially anticipated.
Posted by Parent 4, a resident of the College Terrace neighborhood, on May 27, 2010 at 5:00 pm
This is a very serious matter and I hope the school takes the right action. The students involved in this case needs to be expelled. No excuses! It does not matter if the gun was a toy or not, this is not acceptable. They are not young children that don't know right from wrong. If this situation goes unpunished, other similar cases may occur.
Can anyone explain why a girl was handcuffed if she had nothing to do with the incident? What kind of miscommunication happened between her an the police?
Posted by kmom, a resident of the Greenmeadow neighborhood, on May 27, 2010 at 5:06 pm
It's a toy people!!!! That said, the only way to prevent this from happening again is to have a guard and a gate at the entrance to school, and search everyone before entering the campus. If those of you who are so upset over a toy, this is your only answer.
Posted by Idiots, a resident of the Palo Verde neighborhood, on May 27, 2010 at 5:07 pm
I'm sure if Columbine had the same "paranoid" response, a lot of lives would have been saved. We can't afford not to be paranoid. Bottomline is knives and guns should not be allowed in school and kids who think it is okay as long as nobody got hurt should not get off so easily. Not saying they should be prosecuted and jailed or anything like that but they shouldn't be let go with just a reprimand and a pat on the back.
Posted by Ann, a resident of the Downtown North neighborhood, on May 27, 2010 at 5:13 pm
It's not just a toy!!!! There are many criminals that also use the same type of toy to hurt people. There are many people that have died because one of those toys. This is not just a toy. The situation is alarming and serious. People could have been hurt because what happened today. And some students may be traumatized for life because of this incident. I spent over 10 years afraid to go out and still have problems at night because of a similar situation. This case should have serious consequences. These students need to be expelled!
Posted by mutti, a resident of the Adobe-Meadows neighborhood, on May 27, 2010 at 5:15 pm
Thanks to Gunn and PAPD for handling this correctly. Until it was known that the gun was a 'toy' it was important to keep everyone safe. My daughter was a senior at Gunn when the water fountain was blown up in 1994 and the 3 boys involved in that (also just a 'fun prank') were expelled about 10 days before graduation. They were eventually given a high school diploma from PAUSD, but not until they had done a lot of community service hours and fulfilled probation requirements. Expulsion is a formal process and will take some time to happen, but it wouldn't surprise me.
Posted by Scary, a resident of East Palo Alto, on May 27, 2010 at 5:21 pm
So glad that despite the ridiculousness, that it was an air rifle.
I called PAPD on young men w/rifles not long after Colombine. Turns out they were air rifles and paintball guns. hey ranged out in the back of parking lots, adjacent to the baylands. At first I assumed they were air rifles or paintball guns, but when I heard one of the teens yell "Let's blow away some *&%$" I called 911. To put it mildly, sometimes young folks lack judgement.
Posted by mom, a resident of the Crescent Park neighborhood, on May 27, 2010 at 5:23 pm
Doesn't Gunn require students to register their license plates so they can receive parking permits? Seems as though it would have been simple enough to look up the student, call him out of class, and escort him to the car. No need to put the whole campus in a tizzy and to upset hundreds of parents.
As it happened, the only real danger in this situation was that one of the police pointing a gun at the students would accidentally pull the trigger a la BART.
Obviously the student shouldn't bring a gun, even a toy, on campus, but it's not at all obvious that having a toy gun in the trunk of a car is a crime worthy of expulsion. Just my opinion of course.
Posted by JBH, a resident of the Fairmeadow neighborhood, on May 27, 2010 at 5:26 pm
TO kmom: Are you kidding me? No one knew it was a toy at the time. Better safe than sorry. My concern, again, is that those KNUCKLEHEADS are not unjustly punished. Think about it. Or maybe just think...
Posted by NRA Life Member, a member of the Gunn High School community, on May 27, 2010 at 5:31 pm
The worst part of all this is that the cops pointed guns at students and were running around with guns drawn with their fingers on the trigger. Both of those were huge violations of basic gun safety rules. You never point a firearm at something you don't intend to shoot, and you always keep your finger off the trigger until you're prepared to shoot whatever is in front of your firearm.
Posted by Student, a member of the Gunn High School community, on May 27, 2010 at 5:42 pm
The boys were idiotic for having brought the guns to school, but they had no idea it would cause this much trouble. The palo alto police were correct to exercise caution in dealing with the situation, and taking all necessary precautions, but these boys futures shouldn't be ruined because a bad decision got blown up into a lockdown.
Posted by JBH, a resident of the Fairmeadow neighborhood, on May 27, 2010 at 5:44 pm
anon, I get it. I really do. I cannot imagine how horrible it must have been @ school today. That said, I think these boys should have thought about bringing that Airsoft rifle to school. If they arrived @ school with it already in the trunk of their car, no harm no foul, right? But, they brought it out into the open. How incredibly STUPID! Just use some common sense.
Posted by Unbeliaveable, a resident of the Midtown neighborhood, on May 27, 2010 at 5:47 pm
This thing happened at little bit after 2 and Skelly sends the release at 2:56. What a joke. What about if it was a real emergency, and our kids were hurt. We would not know about it, till they were sure they were hurt? We parents shall be told the moment they do the lock down. Will be up to parents to go to school or stay home.
Posted by Parent, a member of the Gunn High School community, on May 27, 2010 at 5:49 pm
It's way more important that they're trying to make sure it's safe than to tell parents about it... There's nothing parents can do about the situation, I'm sure Skelly was working with the police to make sure kids were ACTUALLY safe, because that's the priority!
Posted by Hmmm, a resident of East Palo Alto, on May 27, 2010 at 5:51 pm
So as this student carrying the gun on his person on campus, or was it only seen in his vehicle? If that latter, was it seen at the end of the day, in the trunk of his car? Does anyone have further details?
Posted by John, a member of the Gunn High School community, on May 27, 2010 at 5:52 pm
What the kids did was completely irresponsible and stupid. People do have the right to carry airsoft guns but to a public highschool? Seriously? How stupid can you be. Also they should had just left the gun in the trunk to begin with.
Many of you people are defending this kids but I believe the PAPD acted tremendously well. They may be good kids and meant no harm but how was the PAPD supposed to know this? What if it had been a real gun or they had actually intended to shoot people with BB guns? What then? You would rather have the PAPD become more lenient with GUNS and put the life of kids in jeopardy ?
Posted by Student, a member of the Gunn High School community, on May 27, 2010 at 5:59 pm
Okay, some people are making a huge deal out of this event and really it's been blown way out of proportion. I do thank the police and the students and staff at Gunn for acting accordingly and following the simple procedures to a code red alert. However, really as a community we need to stop making such a fuss about this and bickering about who is wrong and who is right on what the punishment should be or how the school should have reacted. Yes, even being a member of the Gunn community, I do not think it was a smart idea to bring fake guns to school. But as a community, we need to stop making rude remarks about the two boys and give their family and close friends space.
Posted by Anon, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood, on May 27, 2010 at 6:02 pm
Posted by student, a member of the Gunn High School community, 9 minutes ago
> NRA life member how do you know their hands were on the trigger?
> They were just trying to figure out if anyone had a fire arm
> students may be dramatizing what actually happened
> these guys are trained professionals
Apparently they *did* (according to students) have their guns drawn and and their fingers on the trigger. Whether they actually pointed directly at anyone -- well, I hope not. But, in this type of situation, the police should consider the possibility that an accident will happen -- sooner or later. Glad it wasn't today.
Posted by student, a member of the Gunn High School community, 21 minutes ago
> how can we know if it is a real gun or fake gun when someone sees a > realistic looking gun
Airsoft guns, BB guns, etc., are *supposed* to have a red plastic tip at the end of the barrel, unless it had come loose or was pulled off. I have noticed that a lot of Gunn kids are into airsofting. I'm sure the student just left it in his trunk by mistake. Yes, "school" includes the parking lots, but, people often don't think that way, adults included.
Consider this thought experiment, though-- suppose the student was parked in front of his house? Would the police have reacted this way? Possibly -- a few years ago, a different Gunn student was arrested for having been *seen inside his residence* with an airsoft gun -- assumed to be a real rifle. But, rifles are legal! I think people, and likewise the police, are losing their common sense and over-reacting.
Posted by student, a member of the Gunn High School community, on May 27, 2010 at 6:05 pm
to the anon above
honestly I think it's very likely that it was dramatized that cops put guns right at people with fingers on the trigger. unless we were there though, we will never know (so we should just agree that there is no way of knowing)
However with the BB guns thing I didn't knoiw that the red marking indicates a fake gun. I think it was a good idea for the preson who saw this powerful looking gun on campus to report it. Because cops thought it was real, I think the actions that took place were proper
I do believe that on private property you should be able to have what you want but that is a whole seperate issue
Posted by Teacher at Gunn, a resident of another community, on May 27, 2010 at 6:13 pm
I was there. I saw the "toy" gun as the police officer put it in the trunk of his car. It looked VERY VERY real. I actually thought it was the police officers rifle until I asked. If you want to see what an airsof rifle looks like, go online. IT IS SHOCKING! Plus, it is illegal to carry this gun in public. Check out the laws for these gun's. Educate yourself before you make a statement like, "its just a toy" and " what is all the fuss". All I can say is , "thank you" to the person who called 911. It could have been a real weapon and maybe I wouldn't be typing this comment right now. Thank you! Whoever you are.
Posted by Student, a member of the Gunn High School community, on May 27, 2010 at 6:14 pm
-The kids acted irresponsibly, but they shouldn't have there lives ruined because of this, but I am NOT saying the police didn't act well. They did completely the right thing, and acted amazingly well, but this doesn't mean these kids need to be expelled or called idiots.
Posted by JBH, a resident of the Fairmeadow neighborhood, on May 27, 2010 at 6:19 pm
ANON: I remember that incident when a student was seen in his residence with an Airsoft gun. Someone saw him through a window, then SWAT arrived. That was crazy. But, you have to remember how paranoid people are, and just use common sense and caution.
Posted by Tacroy, a member of the Gunn High School community, on May 27, 2010 at 6:24 pm
Here's what my sister (the girl who was handcuffed) had to say on her Facebook: "I was hiding in the SAC and then the SWAT team came and knocked down the doors and made me get on the ground and they cuffed me ... everybody had their hands up and the whole swat team had their rifles pointed at me".
The first rule of gun safety is you only point your gun at things you are ready to kill. I don't care what my mother said on the phone, if you're pointing your guns at a little girl in the middle of the student activities center you're doing it wrong.
Posted by T, a resident of the Old Palo Alto neighborhood, on May 27, 2010 at 6:31 pm
I hope that "teacher" above isn't really a teacher at Gunn.
I know that online forums are notoriously casual, but some of the errors in that post are third grade errors. (gun's? really?)
on topic: sounds like a kid made a dumb mistake (bringing the toy gun to school) tried to correct it (put it out of sight in the trunk) and someone saw it and (correctly) reported it. A learning point perhaps? Glad it ended with everyone safe.
Posted by Anon, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood, on May 27, 2010 at 6:31 pm
Posted by Teacher at Gunn, a resident of another community, 10 minutes ago:
"I was there. I saw the "toy" gun as the police officer put it in the trunk of his car. It looked VERY VERY real. I actually thought it was the police officers rifle until I asked. If you want to see what an airsof rifle looks like, go online. IT IS SHOCKING! Plus, it is illegal to carry this gun in public. Check out the laws for these gun's. ..."
Teacher, I'm not an NRA member, and, I don't own a rifle. But, you are aware that it is perfectly legal to own a rifle?
People should not panic at the sight of a rifle. Yes, I did grow up with weapons in the house and I realize that many people did not. Yes, the parking is "the school" and the student was dumb. But, if it is true that the police had unlocked weapons and those weapons could have hit someone if discharged ... The response needs to be proportionate to the risk-- that is Basic Security 1. And there is some evidence that the response was more dangerous than the risk.
Posted by RT, a member of the Gunn High School community, on May 27, 2010 at 6:33 pm
@ Tacroy. Cops don't just have their guns pointed at you for no reason, they are being aware of the situation, they always have to be ready with the gun up just incase someone starts shooting, they don't have to waste precious seconds bringing the gun up to shoot.
How bout lets use our brains here.... think people think.
Rather have someone ready to shoot, than waste a couple seconds trying to get ready to shoot and be dead.
Posted by Anon, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood, on May 27, 2010 at 6:39 pm
"Here's what my sister (the girl who was handcuffed) had to say on her Facebook: "I was hiding in the SAC and then the SWAT team came and knocked down the doors and made me get on the ground and they cuffed me ... everybody had their hands up and the whole swat team had their rifles pointed at me". "
Unfortunately, the police were doing exactly as they were trained. The problem is that the training is defective. This is the type of over-reaction that can cause a known mentally ill small woman to get shot for holding a vegetable peeler.
Posted by T, a resident of the Old Palo Alto neighborhood, on May 27, 2010 at 6:47 pm
Anon above (re: vegetable peeler) My memory isn't what it used to be...but that vegetable peeler was not like any that I have in my kitchen. The SJMN had a picture of it and the blade was at least five/six inches IIRC.
Posted by Tacroy, a member of the Gunn High School community, on May 27, 2010 at 6:53 pm
@RT: The police did not have a confirmed gun on campus. Someone called in to report that they thought they saw a gun - they clearly didn't get a good look at it, or they would have seen the big honking bright orange dealiebopper on the end of it, which is legally mandated on airsoft guns.
Absolutely none of this means that the police needed to call in a SWAT team with rifles. All they needed were a couple of police officers with handguns and maybe bulletproof vests to calmly go from classroom to classroom in order find out who had the gun and what the situation was.
The police officers, being professionals, should absolutely not have escalated the situation like that. That's just not what you do in such a situation.
Posted by anon, a member of the Gunn High School community, on May 27, 2010 at 6:55 pm
from what I am understanding, this english-impaired mother said there WAS an armed man on campus, meaning they thought there was a real gun.
Not only that but I, a high school student who would know this kind of thing, didn't know that airsoft guns have that orange thing on the tip and would not have identified it as one had i saw it... only people who know that type of thing by using those guns would know that.
The SWAT team was perfectly necessary if this was a Columbine #2. You do not see it from their perspective: a kid who possibly could be using a rifle to mass kill people/.
There was no escalation. If this girl had not called her mother (LIKE THEY SHOULD HAVE BEEN TOLD, I WAS TOLD NOT TO USE MY PHONE), the SWAT never would have showed up
Posted by Anonymous, a resident of the Barron Park neighborhood, on May 27, 2010 at 6:57 pm
All of you guys shall feel very proud of our administrators. They know how to handle this situations, and take it more seriously than bullying or suicides. Oh, am I glad you Skelly and their cabinet was hired?
Bullies do not get arrested only prankers, like the case of the eggo-war.
Posted by Anon., a resident of the Crescent Park neighborhood, on May 27, 2010 at 6:58 pm
It is q big mystery why this country doesn't work anymore? Look at what a joke virtually any discussion becomes as those with absurd notions come out of the woodwork and waste everyone's time.
Go up and read down these comments with an eye to how many of these are meant seriously I suppose but are so totally clueless and ... yes, stupid. Over half of our population is pure idiots that have no idea about how the world works, and from the sound of it never will have. Giving people like this the expectation, the voice and the vote has driven our country and society into the chaotic zoo it is today.
Democracy, what a great idea. if you can find some people who respect it, deserve it and can handle it. Sheesh.
- cell phones do not interfere with police communciation, what would be the purpose of designiong emergency communications like that? Most likely police do not want possible perpetrators communicating with each other.
- people should not be allowed to carry guns wherever they want whenever they want.
- just because it is a paintball does not mean the report or the police were overreacting.
- the police have to have their guns out to be ready to respond, if they have cause ,.. that is why it is better to avoid all possibility of these incidents because the more there are the more chance there is of a mistake.
- because of the possiblity of these kinds of mistakes do not bring guns or toy guns onto a school campus - period. If you have to go home after school to get your paintball gun, tough toenails.
- how do idiots exercise judgement if they have no judgement at all.
... i could go on and on, but nothing really helps, we just have an epidemic of foolhardiness and irresponsibility dragging us down.
Posted by P, a resident of the Community Center neighborhood, on May 27, 2010 at 7:01 pm
So let me get this straight: A boy has a toy rifle in the interior of his car when he arrives at school, and conscientiously - so as not to scare anyone or cause an incident or misunderstanding if someone happens to spot it through his car windows - opts to transfer it to his locked trunk for safekeeping. And from this harmless little incident comes lockdowns, SWAT teams and real guns pointed at students? Sounds like some one got a little hysterical, and it wasn't the 18-year old boy.
Posted by parent, a resident of the Midtown neighborhood, on May 27, 2010 at 7:11 pm
You're calling it an "overreaction" after the fact. No one knew it wasn't a real gun. Whoever called did exactly the right thing.
(And while an airsoft gun is not a real gun, it's also not a "toy" either.) Thanks to the above poster who sent a link to a picture of this gun. If I saw that at 20 feet, I'd call the police, too.
When my house alarm went off and the police arrived (door open, no one home, but nothing apparently stolen), I was charged a lot of money. I hope the city charges these kids for the cost of the response.
The police did absolutely the right thing. Good thing it ended up not as serious as it appeared to be, but you go to jail if you pretend to have weapons going through airport security, too.
Heck, if I were the police, I wouldn't assume a motive or that it was just poor judgment, I'd search those boys' rooms to make sure there wasn't anything else to it.
Posted by Gunn Student, a member of the Gunn High School community, on May 27, 2010 at 7:39 pm
I was in the code red, locked in a math classroom with about 25 other students. A group of friends and I were all panicking. We did all have our cellphones out trying to contact someone, anyone. We all heard rumors and didn't have any idea what was going on. We did know there were swat teams on campus though because we would see them run past our classroom with their guns up ready to shoot. It was possible one of the most traumatizing times of my life and I really thought I could die.
Posted by anon, a member of the Palo Alto High School community, on May 27, 2010 at 7:41 pm
while the kids who brought the gun onto the campus were extremely stupid, irresponsible, and had no foresight whatsoever, the comments on this article are kind of making this thing seem bigger than it was. According to the article, the weapon never left the car (other than the period when it was carried from the back to the trunk), and I assume the police searched the car and found the weapon before arresting the student. Kids do silly stuff, and the guy shouldn't have to take such a massive fall for a mistake like this. Give him a break, if anything, this was a great opportunity to see how the gunn students and staff would react to a real code red.
Posted by neighbor, a resident of the Greenmeadow neighborhood, on May 27, 2010 at 7:46 pm
I'd concur with a previous post about cell phone use during a lockdown situation -- in a situation such as this, the police have no way of immediately sorting out the "good guys" from the potential "bad guys" and they certaintly don't want the bad guys communicating with each other. It has nothing to do with interference of police communications.
It sounds like some students were told not to use their phones, etc., and others were not.
Please everyone, let calm prevail. This was a scary situation for the students and staff and they need everyone's understanding and support. While there may have been poor judgement by the student with the rifle, I think we should give the benefit of the doubt and wonder if he was trying to remove the rifle to the trunk for good reason (he had a convertible and didn't want it in plain sight and/or didn't realize until the last minute that it was in his car -- both are quite possible). Name calling is unkind and unnecessary, even when poor judgement is used by a teenager, perhaps especially when a teen makes a mistake. Yes, there should be consequences, but let's not get carried away. Had he taken the rifle into school, expulsion would make sense, but he didn't.
Did people overreact, including police? From what I know, it seems they responded exactly as planned when there is any reason to believe students and staff may be in danger. I don't know about the pointing of guns by the police. It sounds extreme, but most of us don't know for sure what happened.
Please, let's promote calm, thankfulness for a good outcome and the safety of everyone involved, a willingness to listen without judgement to those who were so frightened, understanding and clear, fair consequences for those who made mistakes, and support for our kids. That's what helps everyone move forward.
Posted by Hmmm, a resident of East Palo Alto, on May 27, 2010 at 8:00 pm
Sounds like he confused the misspelling of his school w/an unfortunate hobby...ok, bad pun.
What are cops supposed to do? They screwed up at Columbine and too many people died. How are the cops supposed to know in this situation if it's an air rifle or an assault rifle? Given the academic pressure, number of suicides at Gunn and it being the end of the school year, there is always potential for dangerous events occurring. My sister was assaulted and had her nose broken the last day of high school (not at Gunn).
Posted by anonymous, a resident of another community, on May 27, 2010 at 8:20 pm
Airsoft guns of a certain firing power are considered weapons. State education code mandates recommendation for expulsion (having a weapon on campus or committing a felony on campus) - the parking lot is part of a school campus.
Posted by Yeeezy, a member of the Gunn High School community, on May 27, 2010 at 8:37 pm
Anon- that post you made about soo many people being stupid-thank you for doing that. I was gonna but you did it very well. I think its funny (in a sad sort of way) how many people jump to conclusions based on almost no concrete information.
I just want to point out how pa online is censoring the conversation. just keep that in mind...
Posted by char, a member of the Gunn High School community, on May 27, 2010 at 8:39 pm
first of all, weston is a really good kid and should not be jailed for such an act. I agree it was stupid to bring the gun to school (they can look pretty damn real), and the code red was the right thing. I mean, the sighting of a gun during finals week in a high stress school is not totally out of the picture. definitely better safe than sorry.
i just hope he doesn't get rescinded or anything.. that would totally blow.
Posted by ty, a member of the Gunn High School community, on May 27, 2010 at 8:42 pm
teachers should know the procedures for Code Red. some of my friends said they used their cell phones to text and everything. i was in the AC and mr. lira told us to get to the library stacks and he said over and over 'no cell phones.' perhaps if they said that in the sac we could have gotten out of the code red after only 15 minutes rather than 45, since they spent all that time looking for that girl.
but i can sort understand cause, while we were in the library we could see the police, i can't imagine being in a locked classroom and seeing nothing.
Posted by Voice of reason, a resident of Menlo Park, on May 27, 2010 at 8:42 pm
It's disappointing to see the way the mob is descending on this poor kid. It's true that there were dramatic consequences to his actions, but without an intent to cause harm how much can we condemn him? You could say that he was thoughtless, and you might be right, but how could he be expected to foresee all that would result from simply carrying an air gun to school in his car and moving it to his trunk? I'm sure he never imagined that someone might see the air gun and come to the wrong conclusion. I'm twice his age, and I don't think I would have either.
Posted by JD, a resident of the Barron Park neighborhood, on May 27, 2010 at 8:49 pm
I saw on KRON that they showed the two kids. Parents, talk to your kids about GUN's toy's or not!!! Gun's are bad new's! I was with many worried parents at that time. Shame on you boy's for getting all the mom's upset!
Posted by SEC member, a member of the Gunn High School community, on May 27, 2010 at 8:53 pm
As a Gunn student who was there during the lockdown, I feel like there were only two mistakes made. Besides the accidental handcuffing of the girl, the other mistake was leaving the airsoft rifle in the cab of the car on the drive to school.
It would have been imprudent to leave the airsoft rifle in view in the rear of the car and thus the student was right to move it to the trunk. What is the correct way to fix the mistake of bringing it on campus? Announce to the administration that you accidentally brought an airsoft? Call the police?
I hope this situation blows over well, and that the student responsible is either billed or punished for bringing the airsoft or both, but nothing more
Posted by Ann, a resident of the Downtown North neighborhood, on May 27, 2010 at 8:55 pm
Whoever brought the weapon to school must be expelled. There is no excuses for such behavior. My friend's daughter is terrified with what happened. She is crying on and off until now and does not want to go to school tomorrow.
I have to say thank you for the police for such a fast response. It is very important to take any situation like this very seriously.
I am sad about all the drama that has been happening at Gunn over the years, but this situation is too serious and needs to be addressed in the proper way.
I am curious about why the girl was handcuffed. For the posting above, her English is good. Was her mother who made the first call to the police? What did her mother say? And, I am also curious to know where she is from.
Posted by anon (again), a member of the Palo Alto High School community, on May 27, 2010 at 8:56 pm
Just wanted to add this: stop condemning the PAPD for things they did. I saw above how people were going on about how they had their guns out and were slamming doors and such, as well as somebody talking about how her daughter was distraught by the police's actions, and received no counseling from the school after the incident. The PAPD acted in an exemplary manner, and every single person condemning their actions above would be viciously raining down on them if they didn't act the way they did, and the gun turned out to be real. They treated the threat in a professional manner.
In addition, I wanted to reply to the people who were saying the kid who did this deserves harsh consequences to teach him a lesson. The guy is 18. He messed up, but I doubt he planned to shoot the school up with the gun. It was in his trunk, in the parking lot. He has his entire life ahead of him, and it would be pitiful if it was all ruined because some people wanted to "teach him a lesson" or make an example out of him.
Posted by SEC member, a member of the Gunn High School community, on May 27, 2010 at 9:01 pm
To all those calling for expulsion, I'd like to ask you: What would you do in such a situation? The mistake of bringing the airsoft rifle has already been made. To call for expulsion is to seek punishment for an accidental felony.
Suppose you forgot to take your airsoft out of your car on your way to school. It is now sitting in the backseat of a convertible with large windows, in plain view. What DO YOU DO?
Posted by Student, a member of the Gunn High School community, on May 27, 2010 at 9:04 pm
Look it was a stupid decision on Weston's part but to call for his expulsion is a tad ridiculous. At worst, he should be suspended. People make stupid mistakes all the time. His life should not be derailed because of this.
Posted by RT, a member of the Gunn High School community, on May 27, 2010 at 9:07 pm
There was no SWAT... SWAT have super dark uniforms usually black looking with kevlar helmets and such, as a house couple doors down had the SWAT come there and arrest a gang member. It was just regular cops. They have their assualt rifles in their cars, as well as shotguns. Cops did their job, I don't know why people keep hating on them here.
Posted by Coach Haro, a resident of the Midtown neighborhood, on May 27, 2010 at 9:09 pm
It's one big mistake, please don't be too hard on them. Yes, they should of known better!! I know one of the kids and he's a good kid and would never harm anyone. ONE BIG MISTAKE and they will learn from it am sure!!!
Posted by A Gunn Parent, a resident of the Midtown neighborhood, on May 27, 2010 at 9:13 pm
What a fright for our students. Gunn is becoming more and more famous, but for the wrong reasons. After all the pain that our children have endure this past year, and now this. That girl who was handcuffed. I sure hope the school provides emotional support for her. That must have been very scary for her. Did you guys read the Daily post today and the palo alto on line about the school board meeting that took place last Tuesday? What is next?
Posted by Senior Student, a member of the Gunn High School community, on May 27, 2010 at 9:17 pm
Looks like everyone has lots of points of view. Here are mine:
- The Code Red lockdown was completely appropriate, though extremely annoying and somewhat traumatizing. If they HADN'T enacted a full lockdown, no doubt all you people who are complaining that they overreacted would be complaining that they endangered us by not reacting enough.
- "Toy gun" is somewhat of an oxymoron. Such objects as wrenches and fishing poles have been confiscated during Homecoming Week because of their potential to be used as weapons, so of COURSE it's a terrible idea to bring something that actually looks like a
- We were told not to use our cell phones, partly because we were not supposed to make any noise, create any light, or give any sign that we were there in the darkened, barricaded classroom.
- "Westin" should have to show some form of moral remuneration, such as through community service or a form of apology, but expulsion is far too severe.
- The other boy is a wonderful person and should especially not face long-term consequences. One unfortunate decision does not necessarily reflect the entire character of a person.
Posted by sophomore, a member of the Gunn High School community, on May 27, 2010 at 9:25 pm
These guys did not have ill intentions but should have known not to bring something like that to school.
I believe both students should have some sort of community service or basic punishment that doesn't effect their long term goals and aspirations for the future, and also makes a statement to the community: don't bring anything resembling weapons to school.
Expulsion, suspension, I do not know about those.
I do know that those guns are very dangerous, and are illegal in many cities (and you are not supposed to bring them in public in palo alto).
Posted by ic, a member of the Gunn High School community, on May 27, 2010 at 9:33 pm
On Facebook, students at Gunn do not want either one of them expelled or even suspended. If the Administrators insist on it, students will be very upset. We already mistrust the administrators. This will make it worse.
Posted by j, a member of the Gunn High School community, on May 27, 2010 at 9:40 pm
This is Palo Alto for you. I'm just going to tell you what all the other students are saying. Weston had no bad intentions, and anyone that knows him will know that.
To the parents that honestly think this warrants expulsion... are you seriously that caught up in your little 'bubble'? Weston's a good kid, and he's going to a good college. You think he deserves this over a silly mistake? I don't mean to disrespect any of you, but open your eyes. Weston made a mistake, it got blown way out of proportion, and now you think his future should be taken away from him. No one was hurt so let it slide. I was scared as heck too when I saw the cops walk past with their huge guns, but things happen and nobody got hurt. The Seniors have a week or two of school left and now you want to suspend one of them. wow.
Posted by parent, a resident of the Greenmeadow neighborhood, on May 27, 2010 at 9:43 pm
I am happy that the PAPD acted with swift action. My daughter, her friends, all of the Gunn student body, as well as the teachers and staff members, were shown that all is in place if an actual shooting had taken place. One cannot overestimate the importance of this.
Posted by freshman, a member of the Gunn High School community, on May 27, 2010 at 9:44 pm
i was in one of the rooms hiding, and some other freshmen were joking around, calling people, making a lot of noise and pissing everyone in the room off the whole time. i hope to god i dont run into a room with these people again next time (if there is a next time). some people just dont care :(
Posted by h, a member of the Gunn High School community, on May 27, 2010 at 9:45 pm
This reminds me of South Park: The Movie. Parents and the community try to protect the 'kids' and in the process parents become so distant and disillusioned that their actions are actually counterproductive. It's like you want us not to be pressured with school and take it easy (teachers too) yet you pressure us with SAT prep classes and teachers throw lots of useless homework our way.
Don't you understand, parents and teachers? One of our own made a mistake and we forgive him. And, instead, you want to take him away.
Posted by Gunn Mom, a member of the Gunn High School community, on May 27, 2010 at 10:01 pm
Expulsion is extreme and poor judgment. Its end of Senior year, and emotions run high and wild. There was no harm intended, nor done. Give the kid a chance and move on. Just give these kids a rest guys, leave them be! They have gone through enough with 4 years of high school!
Posted by Anon, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood, on May 27, 2010 at 10:04 pm
"j", "h", other students: Not every Gunn parent wants Weston to be tarred and feathered for this, although apparently a few do... We don't get to vote on this -- I hope it turns out all right.
I wonder if the police and school administration will get together and talk about this: this started with someone reporting a possible weapon in a trunk. Was "Code Red" really the appropriate response? Do the current "Code Red" procedures carry risks? Do the risks outweigh the known risks? Note that someone above said they heard "gunfire" -- people frequently hear "gunfire" -- if gunfire gets reported to the police, does it make them more likely to fire at an unarmed person who may (apparently) disobey a police order? Why is it apparently a crime to use a cell phone during such an incident? Is that appropriate?
Posted by Commander McBragg, a resident of another community, on May 27, 2010 at 10:08 pm
So far it hasn't made the national news, just the regional news. I always carry a pocket knife with a 1 1/2" blade. I use it mostly for opening packages. I suppose I could be arrested and charged with a felony if I ever wandered onto a school yard. There's a good chance someone would call the cops when they see some guy on the campus who doesn't seem to belong and I would be questioned and searched.
Fortunately, no one was shot with a plastic pellet, thanks to quick action by the police.
Anyway, it seems that something like this happens every year around Gunn. Last year it was the bomb squad being called in just because the fire department didn't believe that it was water in a cup when they were searching someone's apartment. This year it's full police force and SWAT apparently over an airsoft gun.
Don't get me wrong. I'm not belittling what airsoft guns can do.
But seriously, I know the two guys involved. They're both super-sweet and awesome. Honestly, it was probably just a mistake on Weston's part. Like "oh I went airsofting over the weekend...oh crap I left it in the car and forgot to take it out."
To the parents condemning that mistake, do you have any idea how many people accidentally bring knives in their pockets? And how many people are conscious of it but just don't take it out? Not just the students too, but sometimes the teachers. These people barely, if ever, get in trouble for accidentally bringing the knife to school. Just saying.
SEC member is right on this point.
"Suppose you forgot to take your airsoft out of your car on your way to school. It is now sitting in the backseat of a convertible with large windows, in plain view. What DO YOU DO?"
It's like taking that pocket knife out of your pocket and hiding it in your backpack and being busted then. Or leaving your cell phone on during class and having it ring (surprisingly large numbers of teachers don't actually care too much, but that just might be my schedule).
Anyway. Seriously. Overreaction. Especially on this comment forum.
Posted by MGoBluee, a member of the Gunn High School community, on May 27, 2010 at 11:29 pm MGoBluee is a member (registered user) of Palo Alto Online
okay, im a gunn student. and i agree with its better to be safe then sorry. but hes not at all to blame for this. under current city laws almost every child has broken the same law that he did. they totaled his car, arrested him, holding him on 10,000 dollar bail, and most likely going to screw up his life. he wont get into college, wont get a job. i cant explain the shovel, knife and what not but hes an eagle scout, so it makes sense why he would have a knife. even if he wasn't an eagle scout, its safe to have a knife in your car for emergence purposes, as said by another gunn student, my car came with an emergency kit that contained a knife. i do not think people are seeing the severity of what is about to happen. it was poor judgment but he should just get a slap on the wrist. there was no reason to have the airsoft gun in his car during school. but we have no proof that "in his lap," for goodness sake the person who called it in called it a full size rifle. im my opinion what i believe happened was that Weston for some reason or another had the airsoft gun in his car and realized that it was there and decided to put it away so that something like this wouldn't happen so he went to put it in his trunk and was getting back to school for swimming, opened his trunk and went to get his swimsuit/towel and a facility member walked by and for some reason looked in his trunk and much to her surprise saw what seemed to be a gun. there was nothing wrong with calling the police, i mean after all better be safe then sorry. but the police could've calmly asked Weston for the keys to his trunk. this way they didn't need to abuse there power and completely damage his car, breaking the windows and tearing off the trunk. they could've seen that it was a misunderstanding, most likely suspend him for being in possession of it. and that would be the end of it. but instead what they did was call in S.W.A.T. Stanford's security, Mt. View's police department. and cause a whole stir. i was walking towards my car when it came about that there was a code red. a police officer cocked his fully automatic assault rifle in front of me and yelled "GET INSIDE" he didn't do this calmly or nicely in any matter. one of my friends was in the room where the freshman girl was momentarily detained. she claimed that the police kicked open the door and busted there way through the barricade, and yelled again "wheres J******." i believe that what they will do to Weston is horrible. i think that students of gunn high school have learned not to have anything close to resembling a weapon near campus. i think the authorities should end it at that. they are showing the same amount of maturity that Weston did for having the airsoft gun in the first place.
Posted by Carlmont, a resident of the Palo Alto Hills neighborhood, on May 27, 2010 at 11:54 pm Carlmont is a member (registered user) of Palo Alto Online
-Why should cell phones not be used in emergency situations? Look at the rampant miscommunication going on in this discussion. Miscommunication causes uncontrollable variables. If one of the students had started texting people that it was all over and that nothing was wrong, and in fact there was an actual gunman on the loose, that would be quite bad would it not? People would let their guard down and potentially expose not only themselves but everyone around them. Also, who's to say one of the "students" isn't feeding a "gunman" intel? That's why cell phones shouldn't be used.
-Bravo to the adminstration and police. If this was a real instance, they did the right thing. But again, because of miscommunication, they were under the impression that there were people in school who were armed and potentially dangerous, so they proceeded with that knowledge.
`Since this article doesn't specify any details and gives slightly vague information, I am assuming that this kid was simply putting his airsoft rifle into his trunk while he was in the parking lot.
`It is also incredibly ridiculous to assume a teenager was in possession of an automatic assault rifle, and was simply placing it in his trunk for storage. Automatic assault rifles are illegal in CA, and to obtain one would require smuggling and a black market, which is highly lucrative and expensive. If one really wanted to shoot up a school, I think one would have planned much better than that. A gunshot is also INCREDIBLY distinct and powerful. People interpersonal any loud noise as gunshots, and contribute to the whole mess of miscommunication.
Let's blow this whole situation out of proportion because of miscommunication, frightened parents, and a will to make up for past failures of containing gunmen at schools.
Posted by CPickles, a member of the Gunn High School community, on May 27, 2010 at 11:59 pm CPickles is a member (registered user) of Palo Alto Online
I am a student who experienced the code red and quite frankly I am glad the police reacted in the way they did. Peoples lives could have been in serious danger had it been a real gun. But the fact of the matter is that it turned out to be a toy. Hell I've been shot with airsoft gun, they are harmless. And I can understand why a student might overlook the consequences of having said toy. But it was just an honest mistake. I find it hard to believe that someone can justify expelling a student with only 5 mores days of class for a knife, a toy, and an overreacting audience.
Posted by JustMe, a resident of the Duveneck/St. Francis neighborhood, on May 28, 2010 at 9:16 am JustMe is a member (registered user) of Palo Alto Online
I remember that story about a grade-schooler who was digging through his pockets on the playground and discovered that he had a little 2" plastic GI Joe gun in his pocket. Another kid saw that and reported him and he was expelled. What's wrong with this picture?
I think that while weapons on school grounds are not acceptable, our zero-tolerance attitude towards dealing with them is wrong. Zero tolerance seems to mean zero intelligence, an excuse for the removal of common sense. Yeah, these kids should not have brought a toy gun onto the property, but a legal lynching is a complete over-reaction. How many of us made stupid mistakes when we were young, possibly just as bad or even worse, and the only difference is that we never got caught? As far as I am concerned, any adult who claims not to have done anything stupid is in denial. Should the kids be punished? Yes, in a fitting way. The brand of a criminal record is a lifelong thing these kids do NOT deserve. Yeah, they caused a ruckas, but are they to blame for the over-reaction of others due to hypersensitivity over guns? What next, a school lockdown and arrests because someone has a picture of a gun?
These kids meant no harm, it was a toy, it was not in the school itself but only seen momentarily in the parking lot. The kids do not deserve to be villified over this.
Posted by MJM, a member of the Gunn High School community, on May 28, 2010 at 10:05 am MJM is a member (registered user) of Palo Alto Online
If you read the report police made to the media, the "toy" gun was in full view on the kid's lap in a convertible driving into campus. That was just dumb. If it had been in the trunk in the first place, this would not have happened. Most of these "toys" are designed to look real and the police will not ask an 18 year old "man" if it is real--they will assume it is (otherwise they could be dead).
I was at the gym waiting to pick up my kid and saw the whole thing unfold in the parking lot. The police were very serious but calm and methodical. As soon as they found the car with the gun, now recognized for what it was, they went to find the owner. They then get the second call from a mother about the girl being held at gunpoint (which is why cellphones should not be allowed during a lockdown), and told parents waiting in cars to leave the area (for our safety). When information was unfolding, everything was taken as true untill proven otherwise (for the safety of the students and bystanders). The police acted very responsibly and I am very glad they were there. I was not afraid for the safety of my child, but I was a little concerned for my own safety.
These kids could have been shot (or killed) by the police or caused someone else to be shot. This is not funny! Zero tolerance is appropriate and has been in place ever since Columbine. And these two 18 year old adults should have known better.
Posted by Elwood Blues, a resident of Menlo Park, on May 28, 2010 at 1:28 pm Elwood Blues is a member (registered user) of Palo Alto Online
The headline on this story ("Rifle-toting Gunn student, 18, arrested in Palo Alto") is inflammatory and sensationalist. How about a headline that makes it clear that this was an *air* rifle? Even the "toting" part is misleading - it makes it sound like the student carried the air rifle into school buildings.
Posted by Zelda, a resident of the Crescent Park neighborhood, on May 28, 2010 at 3:50 pm Zelda is a member (registered user) of Palo Alto Online
‘The headline on this story ("Rifle-toting Gunn student, 18, arrested in Palo Alto") is inflammatory and sensationalist. How about a headline that makes it clear that this was an *air* rifle? Even the "toting" part is misleading - it makes it sound like the student carried the air rifle into school buildings’
Good point. More accurate would be:
“Air rifle spotted in student’s car causes panic and lockdown at Gunn High School”
Posted by grewupinpa, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood, on Jun 1, 2010 at 5:59 pm grewupinpa is a member (registered user) of Palo Alto Online
"Air rifle toy with orange muzzle causes panic. Community up in arms, wants to lynch eagle scout honor student." The same people who are so afraid are willing to let their children drive cars, which are known to be dangerous, and even fatal. It is not possible to control all sources of harm, but it is possible to cause irreparable harm out of fear.
Why is it ok that schools are required by law to allow military service representatives onto campus?
The boys in question are still boys, and the rules that govern them, including warrantless searches and not allowed to drink alcohol(legally)etc. are proof that they ARE NOT ADULTS. Did they threaten anyone? Did they try to intimidate anyone? Did they endanger anyone?
Many Palo Alto parents look the other way when their high school students drink illegally, smoke pot, or have likely illegal (under-18 with over-18) sexual encounters, and many more assume it's happening but don't want to know.
Is Palo Alto really turning into a police state?
I grew up in Palo Alto and am ashamed to have to admit it!