Newfoundland & Labrador

Mother says son traumatized after fake gun pointed at him near Mount Pearl school

Fake gun incident caused lockdown of several Mount Pearl schools Thursday, RNC later found suspect

Geoff Bartlett - CBC News

October 06, 2017

Amber McCarthy and Kyle, her 12-year-old son, seen here on his first day of school. She's proud of how Kyle and his friend handled themselves after a fake gun was pulled on them Thursday on a walking trail near their school. (Submitted by Amber McCarthy)

A Mount Pearl mother says her son is shaken after being threatened with a replica gun during his school lunch break.

Several schools in the city went into lockdown mode Thursday afternoon as police searched the area around St. Peter's Junior High School following reports that there was a man with a weapon.

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The Royal Newfoundland Constabulary later said they found the suspect and that the gun was actually a toy.

Amber McCarthy said it all started when Kyle and his friend were on a walking trail near the school for some fresh air during lunch hour. That's when an older boy they had never seen before approached them, and pulled what looked like a real gun out of his pocket and pointed it at them.

"They were both so, so scared. They were traumatized," she told the St. John's Morning Show on Friday. "To them in that instant, fear took over."

There was a heavy police presence in Mount Pearl Thursday, after several schools went into lockdown after reports of a man with a gun near St. Peter's Junior High School. (CBC)

Despite being paralyzed with fear, McCarthy said Kyle and his friend immediately ran back to their school and told staff what happened, which is when the lockdown and police search ensued.

Possibly a BB gun

McCarthy's son told her that the older boy seemed to be just waiting on the trail for someone to walk by, and they described the gun as a replica handgun, possibly a pellet or BB gun.

She said people have told her that the boy who threatened her son later made a post on social media site Snapchat, saying it was a BB gun and that the whole incident was meant to be a joke.

"I don't really care what type of gun it was," she said. "The fact is, there was an individual that set out to purposely terrorize another child or children. It's just a senseless act."

BB guns, like the one seen in this file photo, often look like real handguns. (ASIRT)

McCarthy credits the schools for quickly springing into action with the lockdown, and says the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary did a great job with its response as well.

However, she questions the length of time that passed before her son was allowed to call her. The incident happened after noon but she said it was well after 2 p.m. before he was able to call her.

'He's going to go to school this morning and he's going to hold his head high.' - Amber McCarthy

She said he was quite upset on the phone, both at what happened on the trail and at the fact he had been questioned by police without a parent present.

School response

Though a school official did later call her around 3:30, she thinks as a parent she should have been contacted much earlier.

"I understand that the RNC and the lockdown has got to be the top priority, but I do feel as though the parents should have been the second phone call."

"We were two hours before we were notified. My child wasn't given access to a phone and wasn't allowed to contact me, and at that time he was also interrogated by RNC without the presence of a parent or guardian."

In a statement to CBC on Friday, the province's English school district said that while school staff act in the best interest of students, incidents like the one on Thursday are dynamic situations and it is reviewing what occured to see if there are lessons to be learned and improvements to be made.

McCarthy said despite the harrowing ordeal, Kyle isn't discouraged from returning to school.

"He's going to go to school this morning and he's going to hold his head high," she said.

With files from St. John's Morning Show
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