There Was a Gun at W.T. White Today

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  • T. K. Bentley

    Article from yesterday’s DMN blog below.

    REPUBLISHED FROM The Dallas Morning News c


    Staff Writer

    [email protected]

    Published: 20 December 2012 11:50 PM

    A 17-year-old student at W.T. White High School was arrested Wednesday after a loaded gun was found in his backpack, authorities say.

    The student and confessed gang member, Cristian Ramirez, was taken into custody on suspicion of taking a gun into a prohibited place, a third-degree felony punishable by up to 10 years in prison. He is in the Dallas County jail with his bail set at $1,500.

    “The student was immediately removed from the campus and no one was in danger,” said DISD Police Chief Craig Miller.

    The presence of a gun on a Dallas public school campus comes at a time when fears have been heightened in the aftermath of the shooting deaths of 20 schoolchildren in Connecticut. Police have ramped up their presence around the Dallas district’s 150-plus elementary schools.

    About two weeks earlier, a Dallas ISD police officer confiscated a loaded gun from a student at Kennedy-Curry Middle School.

    According to police records, a teacher described Ramirez as “not acting like he usually does.”

    “Ramirez told the teacher that he heard rumors that the school was looking for him because he was carrying a gun,” the records state. “Ramirez sat the backpack down in the classroom and left. The teacher picked up the backpack and felt something heavy and solid in the bottom. He then locked the classroom” and went to get the principal and a campus police officer.

    Principal Michelle Thompson searched the backpack, finding a loaded .38 handgun inside, the warrant states.

    When questioned, Ramirez admitted to knowingly possessing the gun while in the school. He told school district police detectives that he had been a member of a gang since he was 9 years old, had fought for the gang “as a soldier” and has sold marijuana and cocaine for the gang.

    In a letter Thompson sent home to parents about the incident, she wrote that a non-student gave the student a backpack during fourth period.

    “The student immediately took the backpack to a teacher,” according to the letter. “The teacher secured the backpack in a locked area and immediately notified the campus officer and principal. The backpack containing the gun was secured by the campus officer. The student was taken into custody.”

    DISD spokesman Jon Dahlander said school officials don’t know how the gun made it onto campus and presumably through a metal detector.

    In the letter, Thompson said safety is a “top priority” and the school would have to be “more meticulous with our entry and exit points” to the campus as a result of this incident and other incidents such as the school shooting in Connecticut.

    “Unfortunately, the actions of a very few individuals are having an impact on us all,” she wrote.

    In the wake of the Newtown, Conn., school massacre, Miller said he has formed a 15-member task force, which has now visited each of the district’s elementary campuses to assess security at the schools. He said his department is compiling a list of recommendations for school district Superintendent Mike Miles.

    “This has really focused us to take a look at ourselves,” said Miller. “It’s positive in this respect — if you can take a positive out of such a terrible act. We’re all engaged as a group to provide a safer environment for the kids.”

    Staff writer Matthew Haag contributed to this report.

    Follow Tanya Eiserer on Twitter at @tanyaeiserer.