A seven-year-old child at the in Chicago was struck by a bullet after a gun inside another ‘s backpack fired.
The incident happened on May 17 inside the in the 4100 block of North Marine Drive. The child who was wounded was in a classroom at the time the gun went off. After learned about the incident, many, understandably, had questions about how exactly a gun got into a child’s backpack and how the child could have brought it to without anyone knowing.
According to The Chicago Sun-Times, voiced their concerns aloud. One mother asked reporters “How did a kid get a gun in his backpack and come to like it’s a normal day?”
Police officers said that the gun discharged shortly before 10:00 a.m. while it was still inside a backpack in a classroom. The bullet from the firearm struck the ground before ricocheting and grazing another in the abdomen.
The boy that was grazed by the bullet was immediately taken to Lurie’s Children’s Hospital where he was said to be in , according to Larry Merritt, a spokesman for the Chicago Fire Department.
Disney Principal Paul Riskus told that as soon as the incident took place, faculty members quickly secured the gun and contacted authorities.
“We are working closely with the CPS Office of Safety and Security to make a safety plan moving forward,” Riskus wrote in an email. “Please know that we are taking this situation extremely seriously, and [the Chicago Police Department] is investigating.”
Upon learning about the incident, became frantic.
“We are freaking out,” Victor Garcia, whose son attends pre-the , told ABC7. “There are gun shootings going [on] all over the country. This is crazy.” at
Safana Almakram, one of the of a at the was downtown when she received the email from the principal. She raced to the where other were visibly shaken by the news. Many had arrived to pick up their students.
“We were so scared,” Almakram said.
Principal Riskus penned an email to , explaining the incident, reassuring , and detailing the faculty’s response.
It reads in part:
Schools today face very different challenges than they once did. One of those challenges is confronting the reality that what happened at on Tuesday can now happen just about anywhere.
Words cannot describe what I felt Tuesday morning and in the hours that followed. I am sure that every member of the Disney community has had similar feelings of fear, sadness, and anger.
A loaded gun was brought into in a child’s backpack. The gun spontaneously went off while in the backpack, in a large common area, amid primary-age children.
Our staff sprang into action and within moments of contacting the police, word spread rapidly through the media. We tried hard to send communication to as quickly as we could. Unfortunately, those initial rapid media reports – posted minutes after the incident – could not possibly tell the full story, causing many of you to rush to our in fear for your children before we could even notify you of the incident and assure you that your/our children were safe. Our community was understandably terrified. As a parent of two young children myself, I understand this reaction and I’m sorry that most of you first learned of this incident via the media.
I have been so impressed by so many; students, , and our staff. There was the Assistant Principal who quickly identified the backpack where the noise erupted and removed it from the classroom. The teachers who remained calm and quietly checked in with each , reassuring them they were not in danger. The who discovered and comforted a child who sustained minor injuries, which were later determined to be caused by fragments of a bullet and debris that had ricocheted off the floor. The security staff members who quickly secured the backpack and firearm until police arrived. The office staff who calmly gathered students as their came to pick them up.
On Thursday evening, 130 Disney , teachers, and community members came together at our for about 90 minutes. The purpose of this gathering was to share feelings and reactions in small groups and to brainstorm additional safeguards and procedures that we might consider in light of Tuesday’s events.
Incidents like last Tuesday’s can be terrifying. Our only real comfort comes from seeing how resilient our children have been, and how so many adults managed to keep their own anxiety in check so we could prioritize the physical and emotional safety of our .
What our saw was a community of loving adults who showed calm concern while continuing to do all the great things they normally do throughout the day. This display of community character comes as no surprise – and it’s the best reassurance I have that we’re going to be OK.
Paulette Savage, a seventh grade the , was upset that the principal’s email didn’t specifically say that a was actually wounded. She says she had to find out from the news media. at
“I just expect more transparency,” said Savage, who teaches at another Chicago . “We should never find out from the news.”
Parent Anna Sedelmaier said the has a “good vibe,” but she also shared that she’s concerned about the “great” and “loving” instructors.
“I’m more worried about the teachers right now because I think [the ] are fine,” Sedelmaier said. “How they must be viewing this and how traumatic it is for the people who understand the weight of this.”
According to its website, “The is an eleven-acre site located on Chicago’s lakefront. Much of the is bused from the many neighborhoods in the city. Thus, it reflects the racial, ethnic, and socio-economic diversity of the city.
It opened in the 1970s and was the first in the City of Chicago. is an open-spaced environment with a team teaching format. There are approximately 1,600 students in Preschool through 8th grades. Disney is part of the Fine Arts Cluster and delivers arts and technology-integrated instruction.”
Plans for a new type of instructional setting in the Chicago area had been in place for years. It was determined that the program was to feature an emphasis on communication arts. Walter Elias Disney was born on North Tripp Avenue in 1901 in Chicago’s Hermosa neighborhood. As such, the question was put forth: Why not honor –the Chicago-born, “uber-arts communicator” for “children of all ages?”
The new building saw its first and first welcomed students in 1973, though classes had been taking place inside renovated parts of an old hospital building in Chicago before then.
The mother of the child whose backpack had the loaded gun in it was charged with misdemeanor counts of child endangerment.
“We are inches away, possibly centimeters away, from a very different case and a very different tragedy,” Judge Michael Hogan scolded the mother, 28-year-old Tatanina Kelly, 28.
Kelly’s 8-year-old son had found the firearm under a bed in the family’s home and brought it to . Kelly’s bond was set at $1,000.