MENOMONEE FALLS -- Officials with Menomonee Falls School District said "a handgun was mistakenly put into a student's backpack and brought to school" at Shady Lane Elementary School on Friday, Jan. 12 -- and the student didn't know it was there. We've learned the student's father was arrested, and the case has been referred to the Waukesha County District Attorney's Office for possible charges.
A letter home to parents (see below) indicates the weapon was "never revealed or taken out while in school."
Authorities were notified of the weapon's presence at Shady Lane -- and it was determined "it was a mistake."
Superintendent Pat Greco said Monday afternoon she could not reveal details about the student because of privacy concerns, but said the child is between 4 years old and 7 years old. This happened at the end of the school day.
"The teacher was placing something into the backpack and the backpack was heavier than it should have been. They looked in and found the weapon," Greco said.
The weapon was quickly taken to the main office without any child seeing it. Police were then called in to investigate.
"Although it was a mistake, it was clearly a negligent one and the Menomonee Falls Police Department is handling the situation from a legal standpoint," Greco said.
While police declined to comment on camera, they did issue a statement to FOX6 Monday that seemed to indicate investigators had located the gun's owner: "We've referred reports to the Waukesha County District Attorney's Office, but we are waiting for their review to be finished and wait for them to advise us on how they want to proceed."
"We don't want to place judgment on any individual. We just want to make sure as individuals are working with firearms, they recognize the safety around young children," Greco said.
Complete text of letter sent home to parents
Dear Falls Families,
I want to inform you of a situation that occurred at Shady Lane on Friday. A handgun was mistakenly put into a student’s backpack and brought to school. The student did not know it was in the backpack and it was never revealed or taken out while in school.
It was discovered by the student’s teacher while placing something in the student’s backpack and a support staff member immediately brought it to the office. The police were contacted and came to school where they began their investigation.
The conclusion is that the handgun was inadvertently put in the wrong bag, the student’s backpack. The student did not know it was in there and did not bring it to school to harm anybody or even to show anyone. Although it was a mistake, it was clearly a negligent one and the Menomonee Falls Police Department is handling the situation from a legal standpoint.
This student was not a perpetrator of a crime, but caught in the middle of a potentially traumatic experience for a young student.
Shady Lane as with all of our schools is an exceptional place to learn. Our focus is the safety of children at all times, nobody was hurt, there was no intention to do harm. The staff reacted professionally and appropriately to ensure the safety of everyone at school.
We have great schools and great families here in Menomonee Falls and we thank you for being a part of our family.
Director of Communication & Community Outreach
School District of Menomonee Falls
School went on as scheduled Monday at Shady Lane Elementary.