SUNBURY — Two unidentified teens flashed a gun on Halloween afternoon at two different schools in Sunbury, and it took school district officials more than 20 minutes to call police after the second incident.
The teens showed the weapon at Beck Elementary School and did the same thing a half hour later at the high school. It took school administrators 20 minutes after the incident at the high school — and nearly an hour after the initial incident at Beck — to call police. And that has the city police department furious.
The gun was later to be determined to be a pellet gun, but it looked like a real semi-automatic weapon, police said.
Shikellamy School District administrators decided not to call police immediately after high school Principal Ernie Jackson discovered the two unidentified males had dropped the gun when he began to ask who they were. Jackson recovered the gun, but the boys fled the high school, a source at the scene said Saturday.
Other faculty members demanded police be notified, but administrators called the district office to ask for approval, delaying the arrival of officers by nearly 20 minutes.
District Superintendent Pat Kelley is serving a 20-day suspension after being charged by New York police with drunken driving. Because of Kelley’s suspension, the district is being led by business manager Dave Sinopoli. Kelley is expected to return to work on Friday.
Sunbury Police Chief Brad Hare confirmed the incident took place and said officers were not in a good mood when they received the call about the gun incident long after the individuals were first spotted on school property.
“We are not very happy right now,” Hare said Sunday. “We have an officer investigating the incident and we will be meeting with Shikellamy administrators.”
Hare would not go into detail about the delay. The officer in charge of the case is Gary Heckman.
It was determined the same two unidentified individuals flashed the gun at Beck Elementary School prior to arriving at the high school, a teacher said. Hare acknowledged the incident at Beck took place but said he would reserve comment until he spoke with Shikellamy administrators.
The latest incident comes about a month after a student knocked another student unconscious inside the high school and police were not notified until days later when a parent called the police department to see if an arrest was going to be made.
Police investigated the incident and the parents of both students decided to not press charges, Hare said.
School directors are not talking about this latest incident and several of them, when reached for comment, had no idea it took place.
Parents of students are concerned with the safety of their children and are asking why calling police has become an issue in the district.
“We need to get this problem fixed and we need to fix it fast,” a Beck Elementary mom said. “We have a great police force and it seems to me we have some unqualified school directors and administrators that may be more concerned with their night life than planning for our students’ safety. And that’s a problem.”
This was the second recent incident in the region involving teens and guns. On Thursday, Mount Carmel officials canceled a pep rally and parade for the Coal Bucket game with Shamokin when a 15-year-old was spotted carrying what appeared to be a semi-automatic rifle. Police investigated and found that the teen and two companions had air soft guns.
An Oct. 24 shooting in Washington state resulted in four deaths when a popular freshman at Marysville-Pilchuck High School, about 30 miles north of Seattle, open fire in the cafeteria.
In December 2012, a shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary, Newtown, Connecticut, resulted in 26 deaths. Investigators said Adam Lanza, 20, entered the school and began to open fire.
Twenty students, ages 6 and 7, and six adults were killed at the school.
Months later Shikellamy officials and police departments from Sunbury, Northumberland, Point Township and state police officials met to develop a plan on incidents involving guns at schools.
The first officer arrived on the scene of the Sandy Hook school shooting two minutes and 41 seconds after the first police radio broadcast.