UPDATED: Auburn student arrested with gun, bulletproof vest
By Jim Hagerty
A 16-year-old male student at Rockford Auburn High School was arrested Friday, Dec. 11 for being in possession of a loaded .32-caliber handgun and wearing a bulletproof vest. The student was charged with aggravated unlawful use of weapons, possession of body armor and no FOID.
A female student at Auburn reported at around 10:25 a.m. seeing another student who appeared to be wearing a gun in his waistband. The school was on lockdown for 45 minutes while officials searched the school.
The student with the gun was located in a hallway. Police said the student was acting alone. Rockford Police Deputy Chief Greg Lindmark said at a noon press conference investigators believe the student’s motive is known. However, because the suspect is a juvenile, he could not comment further.
The Rock River Times later learned the student allegedly had been in an altercation with another Auburn student who had been suspended but was reportedly on the Auburn campus Friday. That student was arrested for trespassing, according to reports. Lindmark would not say whether the incident was gang-related.
Rockford Police Chief Chet Epperson was also present but gave no indication gang activity was involved.
School officials said the incident occurred between second and third period, and classes went uninterrupted. No one was injured. The student was identified and detained within 2 minutes of the gun sighting.
According to Executive Director of Schools Earl Hernandez, the student’s alleged act is grounds for expulsion and he would face consequences mapped out in the District 205 disciplinary code. He couldn’t confirm if the student would be expelled. Hernandez said a recommendation for punishment would be presented to the school board, which, in turn, would decide whether the student would be removed from the district.
The incident is the fourth report of violence in the Rockford public school system within the last month. At least two students were arrested in November in connection with a reported riot at East High School, while similar incidents have been alleged at Guilford High and West Middle School.
The West report claimed a student physically assaulted a teacher. Meantime, an attempted armed robbery involving a knife was reported inside Guilford High.
Hernandez, speaking in place of the absent District Superintendent Dr. LaVonne M. Sheffield, said despite what some call a recent rash of violence, the district is properly dealing with each incident and staff does not consider them alarming. Hernandez also said Dr. Sheffield has a “zero-tolerance” policy for weapons.
“We are no different than any urban district of our size as far as the related incidents,” Hernandez said. “…There have been four incidents in the schools. When you have a district of 29,000 and four high schools, I don’ know that you would call that ‘alarming.’”
Epperson said area law enforcement agencies are committed to their roles in preventing and dealing with violence, saying Friday’s events are unacceptable and his department “will not tolerate weapons in the schools.”
Staff Writer Joe McGehee contributed to this report.
Print This Article