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Alabama superintendent addresses guns at schools

Published: Dec. 8, 2021 at 9:59 PM CST|Updated: Dec. 8, 2021 at 10:18 PM CST
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MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WSFA) - Alabama’s state superintendent of education is addressing a recent increase in weapons being found on Alabama school campuses.

“We’re very concerned about it,” Superintendent Eric Mackey said.

In less than a week, five guns have been found in central and south Alabama schools, resulting in the arrests of four students.

In Dallas County, two students were detained after three loaded guns were found at Southside High School on Friday.

In Pike County, just days later, a 13-year-old was charged with carrying a concealed weapon and taken to the juvenile detention center after being caught with a loaded gun on a school bus.

Then on Wednesday, a student was arrested and charged with unlawful possession of a weapon on school campus after a gun was found on the campus of Goodwyn Middle School. That student has been placed in the Montgomery County Youth Facility.

The recent string of incidents has put parents, students, school officials and law enforcement on high alert.

“It’s just scary,” said Jessica Earthly, a mother to children who attend Montgomery Public Schools. “Like, where they getting these guns from? Why are you bringing these guns?”

“Most the time when somebody bring guns, they trying to hurt somebody,” she said.

The State Department of Education says they are actively working to address the concerns, and they have a message for parents: get control over your guns.

“Parents have got to take responsibility for their children,” Mackey said. “Parents have got to make sure they know where there children are, what their children are doing and what the children are in possession of.”

Mackey added that parents need to be vigilant too.

“Be listening to what your children are saying, to anything that might be going on Facebook or something that might be a perceived threat and then report those to the school and to police,” Mackey said.

Mackey said talks are ongoing about plans to increase security in schools, but there is a level of secrecy behind school safety plans.

“That’s because we have to maintain the integrity of the plan,” Mackey said. “Yes, we are having those talks, but no, I can’t really talk about them.”

Mackey said the good news is that because of successful collaboration between law enforcement and school officials, these most recent incidents have not ended in tragedy, but that could change.

“We are all worried there is going to be a discharge of a weapon or that something bad is going to happen,” Mackey said. “So I go back to got to have parents taking control and taking responsibility for their children.”

Mackey admits he does not know the reason behind why they are seeing threats and an increase in guns in schools, but he did say schools in Alabama are dealing with a “mental health crisis” right now brought on by COVID-19.

He also said they have seen in the past “copy cat incidents” following an incident like what made national headlines in Michigan regarding the shooting death of four children on a school campus.

He did not attribute either of those reasons for what we have seen in recent weeks but did say this needs to stop.

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