Juvenile charged after bringing pellet gun on school bus

By Abby Morris
Star Staff
amorris@starhq.com

   A 16-year-old boy was taken into custody and charged with going armed on school property and evading arrest after he allegedly showed a pellet gun to other students on a school bus Friday afternoon in the Hampton community.
   "A student notified the bus driver, and he notified the authorities and evacuated the bus," said Carter County Sheriff John Henson. "He did a good job, the bus driver did."
   According to reports, the bus, driven by Theodore Smith, was in the Hampton community Friday afternoon around 3 p.m. when the incident occurred near the intersection of Dennis Cove Road and Tollett Street.
   Carter County Sheriff's Department Sgt. Tim Lowe responded to the scene and boarded the bus to speak with the juvenile who had exited through the vehicle's rear emergency exit before Lowe could board it.
   The juvenile then fled on foot, and Lowe, aided by onlookers who informed him which way the boy had ran, followed him. Lowe was able to locate the subject inside a mobile home located in a trailer park on Nave Street.
   According to reports, the boy at first denied having been on the school bus but was overheard by officers telling other residents of the mobile home that he in fact had been on the bus. At that time, the juvenile was taken into custody.
   Officers recovered the gun, which turned out to be a CO2 pellet pistol, at the location of the school bus. Upon searching the subject, officers found two CO2 cartridges in his pants pockets along with a knife and a package of cigarettes.
   After being taken into custody, the juvenile was transported to the Johnson City Juvenile Detention Center, according to Henson.
   Though the weapon the juvenile was in possession of was not a real handgun, Henson's department was handling the case seriously.
   "Whether it's a pellet gun or a real gun, just looking at the gun you can't tell which is which," he said. "In my opinion it's a serious problem, and we're dealing with it like it's a serious problem."
   This is the first incident in Carter County of a student bringing a gun onto a school bus, Henson said. "This is the first incident we've had of this kind of situation, and we're going to do our best to make sure it's our last," he said. "We're hoping this sends a message to the rest of the kids that they're not going to take weapons to school or on the bus."