CRESSON - Administrators at Admiral Peary Vo-Tech here have suspended a 16-year-old student who brought a loaded 9 mm handgun to school Friday, according to school and police officials.
They did so only after a tense chain of events that involved a visit to a crowded study hall, small talk there and a walk to the office, before they revealed to the student why they had pulled him out of class, according to vo-tech Executive Director Ken Jubas.
The student made no threats and ultimately cooperated, saying he had brought the gun to protect himself because he feared he would be getting jumped by other students after school.
He heard that threat third-hand, and administrators who talked to the alleged ringleader of the potential attack could find no credible evidence it was being planned, Jubas said.
The administrators approached the study hall cautiously because they have gotten plenty of anonymous tips previously - though none about weapons - that turned out to be false, and because if it was true, they didn't want to initiate a potentially dangerous reaction from the student, Jubas said.
So they chatted with the students awhile, in low-key fashion, then informed the student that the guidance counselor wanted to see him.
They had previously agreed to be watchful of the student's hand movements.
They felt better when they got him out in the corridor, but continued to be watchful and to make small talk until they got him in the office, Jubas said.
"The main goal was to isolate him," he said.
They spoke of a rumor, and asked him if he wanted to say anything.
He volunteered to be searched, and it turned out there was nothing in his pockets.
But the tip had spoken of the gun in his waistband, under his shirt, and when they told him that, he "kind of surrendered," Jubas said.
Jubas himself pulled up the boy's shirt and took the gun.
The student seemed genuinely to believe there was a threat, he said.
The school is following the state's Act 26 procedures for weapons violations, imposing a mandatory 10 day suspension, before the end of which must occur an expulsion hearing.
The maximum expulsion time for someone of his age - not yet 18 - is a year.
Most likely the administration team at the hearing will recommend expulsion, a recommendation that will go to the school board for approval, Jubas said.
The police came in after the fact.
"We got dispatched at 1:55 p.m.," said officer Walter Maul of Cambria Township police. "It was already over."
Mirror Staff Writer William Kibler is at 949-7038.