MOULTRIE — A student being escorted through a school fired a Colquitt County deputy’s gun in its holster Thursday, but no one was injured.
It was the most serious of several incidents of school disruption reported to the Colquitt County Sheriff’s Office this week.
The gun was fired at Vereen School, 60 Greenwood Ave., which is operated by the Pathways Program, based in Thomasville, under contract with Colquitt County, Mitchell County and Pelham City school systems. The program serves students with emotional or behavioral challenges.
Deputy Nakia Benefield, who serves as school resource officer at Vereen as well as C.A. Gray Junior High School, was summoned to a classroom because a student was trying to hit a teacher with chairs. Information from the sheriff’s office said the boy was either 9 or 10 years old.
The deputy reported the boy was under the teacher’s desk with a hole puncher and was trying to take other items from her desk when he arrived. Desks and chairs were flipped over in the classroom, he said.
The deputy was able to get the boy from under the desk and was escorting him to the “time-out room” when the boy got his fingers inside the deputy’s holster and fired one shot from the semiautomatic pistol.
The deputy said he immediately checked to see if anyone was hurt and no one was. He continued with the student to the time-out room.
The boy continued to curse and be defiant, the deputy said, and he told the deputy he had intended to pull the trigger.
The deputy’s report said the casing from the shot remained in the gun, and when he returned afterwards he was unable to find the bullet.
The bullet “went straight into the floor,” Colquitt County School Superintendent Samuel DePaul said afterwards. “That bullet could have ricocheted. It didn’t.”
“It was just an unfortunate situation,” DePaul said. “Fortunately nothing bad happened.”
DePaul said he believes the child involved was from Mitchell County.
Sheriff’s Capt. Julius Cox said the child was released to his parents.
“Typically you wouldn’t file any formal charges,” Cox said, citing the likely mental or emotional challenges that would have the student assigned to Pathways in the first place.
Cox said the sheriff’s office was inspecting all deputies’ holsters on Friday to find a way to prevent the incident from ever happening again.
The other school disruptions did involve charges being filed against juveniles.
On Monday, a student was found with brass knuckles in his boot at C.A. Gray Junior High, 812 11th Ave. N.W. Another student had reported that he had a weapon, but the suspect said a different student had given them to him to hold.
The suspect was suspended immediately after the incident, but school administration decided later in the week to file a charge against him of having a weapon on school grounds.
On Wednesday, again at C.A. Gray, a female student was charged following an attack on another girl.
A school administrator reported the two girls got into an argument about 7:30 a.m. and he was able to redirect them. After that, school staff was keeping a close eye on them.
Just after 8 a.m., one girl walked up behind the other, grabbed her hair and yanked her backward, then struck her two or three blows before administrators could reach them and get them apart, according to the report made by a Colquitt County deputy.
On Friday morning, a student at Colquitt County High School was charged with disruption of a public school following an act of blatant disobedience.
An assistant principal ordered the student to stop, but he tried to walk away. The school resource officer also ordered him to stop but he continued to walk away. Both the assistant principal and the SRO pursued him through the hallway of students, so when they did get him to stop the deputy arrested him on a charge of disrupting a public school.