Original article no longer available
Eastern Arizona Courier
By Aimee Staten, Assistant editor
Published September 17, 2003
Note: Ann Tracy, Ph.D., Executive Director of the International Coaltion for Drug Awareness, investigated this case and found that the 13 year old boy was taking Zoloft at the time of the incident.
A 13-year-old boy brought a 9 mm gun to Safford Middle School on Thursday for what appeared to authorities to be a suicide attempt.
During a morning class, the student was excused by teacher Brandi Hanchett to use the restroom. When he picked up his backpack in preparation of leaving the room, he was told by Hanchett that he could not take it with him.
While the boy was absent from the class, another student approached the teacher with a round of 9 mm ammunition in his hand. He told Hatchett the student had showed it to him that day and said he planned to kill himself while in the restroom.
Safford Police Chief John Griffin said Hanchett’s refusal to allow the student to take his backpack with him to the restroom could have saved his life.
The teacher searched the teen’s backpack, first discovering a fully loaded clip, then the 9 mm gun.
As the teen was leaving the restroom, he was intercepted by another school staff member and escorted to the office. Safford Police Officer Wayne West confiscated the weapon and ammunition, then the teen was taken into custody by West and Captain Dennis Whisman.
The gun belonged to the teen’s father, who said he kept it on top of his dresser in his bedroom. The teen had taken it that morning.
Safford Superintendent Dr. Mark Tregaskes expressed his gratitude to the student who told Hanchett about the bullet. “We’re glad the students are taking an active role in making the Middle School a safe place to learn,” he said.
“Anytime weapons are brought onto the school campus, we consider that a serious offense. The school will take prompt action.”
The teen was taken to the Graham County Juvenile Detention Facility.
He told police he never had any desire to harm anyone in the school other than himself. The school district plans to press charges for bringing a dangerous weapon onto school property.
A letter explaining what happened and what action was taken during the event was sent home to all parents of students who attend Safford Middle School.
The student was not identified because it was an apparent suicide attempt.