PARKTON, N.C. (WBTW) — An 11-year-old girl was suspended from school for a year after a loaded gun was found in her lunchbox at Parkton Elementary School on Monday, according to authorities.
According to the district, this is the ninth gun found on one of its school campuses so far this academic year. It is the third found at an elementary school.
One woman said the issue has reached a point where she isn’t sure whether to continue sending her grandchildren to school.
“You got young kids, babies carrying guns,” Irma Battersby said.
Battersby has three grandchildren at Parkton Elementary School. She said the community has been talking about the newest gun incident all week.
“She could have dropped it and accidentally shot another kid,” Battersby said. “She could have shot herself. It’s just too scary.”
A spokesperson for Public Schools of Robeson County said the district has required mesh or see-through bags for years for exactly this reason.
Battersby wants more.
“Well if that’s the case, y’all need to start making them use see-through lunch boxes,” she said.
The spokesperson said this semester that the district resumed randomly searching students in response to the growing number of guns found at its schools — a practice that was discontinued when the pandemic began.
Becky Ceartas, executive director of the nonprofit North Carolinians Against Gun Violence, said preventing incidents like these starts at home.
“We must always ask, where are these guns coming from? Especially when we are talking about young children, they probably aren’t buying them on the streets,” Ceartas said. “One in three parents owns a gun. That’s not a problem. The problem is, one in four of those guns is unsecured.”
“Why aren’t they watching their kids? Why aren’t they locking up their guns?” she asked. “Keep them locked up, because that kid could have killed my granddaughter.”
The nine guns found at Robeson County schools are as follows:
1- Red Springs High School
1- Parkton Elementary
1- W.H. Knuckles Elementary
3- Lumberton Senior High School
1- Purnell Swett High School (The spokesperson detailed an additional incident where a student brandished a toy gun as if it was real)
1- Fairmont High School
Ceartas said in 2021, a bill aimed at distributing gun locks and educating gun owners about proper storage safety passed the North Carolina of Representatives, but wasn’t voted on in the Senate.
News13 reached out to the Robeson County Sheriff’s Office to see if the 11-year-old student’s parents have been charged.