Finger pointed like gun at classmates gets 12-yr-old girl handcuffed, arrested, charged with felony

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A 12-year-old Kansas girl was put in handcuffs after forming a gun with her fingers and pointing it at four classmates, before then pointing it at herself.

Not only was the student arrested for using her hand to make a pretend weapon, she was charged with a felony for threatening to commit violence, according to the local Kansas City Star — the incident happened last month at Westridge Middle School in Overland Park, a suburb south of Kansas City.

And speaking of hands, the Shawnee Mission School District is washing theirs of any responsibility for the student being arrested.

“We don’t do that,” spokesman David Smith. “That is not our job.”

Smith said the role of school district police is “not to enforce the law but to keep kids and adults safe,” The Star reported.

He added that the arrest would have been handled by a school resource officer from Overland Park Police Department.

Citing Johnson County District Court documents, the paper reported that the student “unlawfully and feloniously communicated a threat to commit violence, with the intent to place another, in fear, or with the intent to cause the evacuation, lockdown or disruption in regular, ongoing activities.”

More from the Kansas City Star on what led up to the arrest:

A person familiar with a more detailed incident report spoke to The Star on condition of anonymity. The person said that during a class discussion, another student asked the girl, if she could kill five people in the class, who would they be? In response, the girl allegedly pointed her finger pistol — like the ones many children use playing cops and robbers.

Because of that gesture, The Star was told, the girl was sent to Principal Jeremy McDonnell’s office, and the other students involved were also talked to. The school resource officer recommended that she be arrested, the source said. She was detained by police and later released to her mother. A hearing in the Juvenile Division of the District Court of Johnson County is set for Tuesday.

The girl’s mother, Vanessa McCaron, who said she pleaded with the school resource officer not to arrest her child, told the newspaper that her daughter had been bullied for months by some of the classmates who provoked the Sept. 18 incident.

The student now lives in California and her grandfather, Jon Cavanaugh, thinks the school overreacted.

“I think that this is something that probably could have been handled in the principal’s office and got completely out of hand,” Cavanaugh said.

“She was just mouthing off,” he added, stressing that she has no access to an actual gun and no intent of harming anyone.

Cavanaugh said he was told his granddaughter could face up to a year at a juvenile detention center.

“I’m really worried about my granddaughter’s future,” he said.

As the newspaper noted, a Colorado first-grader was suspended in 2015 for using his fingers to form a gun, pointing toward a classmate and saying, “You’re dead.”

Earlier this year a 10-year-old Columbus, Ohio, boy was suspended for three days for pretending his finger was a gun.

Tom Tillison

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