15-year-old with fully loaded gun stopped on way into Philly school

Capt. Sekou Kinebrew, a police spokesman, talks with reporters outside of the Philadelphia Police Department's headquarters about a student who brought a loaded handgun to Fels High School Monday morning.

Capt. Sekou Kinebrew, a police spokesman, talks with reporters outside of the Philadelphia Police Department's headquarters about a student who brought a loaded handgun to Fels High School Monday morning. (Dana DiFilippo/WHYY)

Twelve days after the nation’s deadliest high school shooting in modern American history, a ninth-grader tried to sneak a stolen, loaded gun into Samuel Fels High School in Philadelphia’s Crescentville neighborhood Monday morning, police said.

The 15-year-old student stashed the .40-caliber Smith and Wesson handgun — fully loaded with 12 rounds  — in his backpack on his way into the school on Langdon Street around 7:35 a.m., said Capt. Sekou Kinebrew, a police spokesman.

But security staff noticed it as the bag passed through an X-ray scanner, Kinebrew said. They seized the gun and arrested the boy, who’s now charged with possession of a weapon on school property and violating the Uniform Firearms Act — a felony charge, for carrying a firearm as a juvenile.  

The boy admitted to police that he stole the gun from a neighbor’s car parked in the 5900 block of Hammond Street in Olney, Kinebrew said. So he also faces a theft charge, he added.

“It doesn’t appear that he has any rivalries or any beefs with any other students that would cause him to bring the gun up there, but that’s something, of course, we have to look at too,” Kinebrew said. “He was an otherwise non-problematic child. He didn’t have any disciplinary problems at the school.”

Police seized this 40-caliber Smith and Wesson handgun that was fully loaded with 12 rounds from the Fels student.
Police seized this .40-caliber Smith and Wesson handgun that was fully loaded with 12 rounds from the Fels student. (Courtesy of the Philadelphia Police Department)

Police placed the school on lockdown for an hour during the incident.

It’s not uncommon for Philadelphia police to respond to reports of guns and weapons in school, Kinebrew said, but they often don’t pan out. A student carrying a fully loaded firearm is relatively rare.

The incident should persuade parents of the need to check up on their children — even those who seem fine, Kinebrew said.

“If you’re the parent, and you believe your child might be having some issues at school or being picked on — or even if they’re not — it’s never a bad idea to do a spot check of your child’s bag,” he said. “Our parents had no problem going into our bedrooms and our dresser drawers and our bags and stuff like that, so check your kids’ bags. There’s nothing wrong with that.  Make sure there’s nothing in there that shouldn’t be.”

Seventeen students and teachers died Feb. 14 when a 19-year-old former student went on a shooting rampage at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.

The Fels incident was at least the third gun scare at a Philadelphia-area school since the Parkland tragedy.

Police locked down Wagner Middle School in West Oak Lane Friday after a student reported seeing a boy with a gun there. Police later found a BB gun in the school.

And authorities in Camden County arrested a 15-year-old boy on Feb. 15 for allegedly threatening to “shoot up the school” at Eastern Regional High School in Voorhees.

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