There's a reason some schools in New Orleans require see-through or mesh backpacks, and this is it: At about 9 a.m. on Monday, a handgun that a 13-year-old at Gentilly Terrace Elementary School had stashed in his bag went off accidentally on school grounds.
No one was hurt. But police arrested the teenager and planned on booking him with weapons possession and illegal discharge of a firearm, said officer Shereese Harper, a police spokeswoman. The school is located at 4720 Painters St.
There's no evidence the case represents any new trend. Guns have long been a scourge among male teenagers in New Orleans. Yet it's at least the second gun-related incident on a city campus since the new school year opened just a few weeks ago. Police were called to Reed Elementary [a charter school operated by ReNEW] in eastern New Orleans last month after an eighth-grader brought a pistol to school.
Neither of the students appeared to have plans to shoot anyone. At Reed, the teenager turned over the gun voluntarily when a behavioral specialist sensed that something was wrong, and school officials said the weapon didn't appear to be functional.
The incident Monday at Gentilly Terrace seemed right out of a cautionary tale about the child who finds his dad's gun.
Vera Triplett, the chief operations officer for the Capital One-New Beginnings Charter School Network, which runs Gentilly Terrace, said the student was showing the pistol off to classmates in a corner of the school yard when it somehow went off.
"He didn't bring it to school to harm anyone," Triplett said.
Gentilly Terrace Charter School
“New Orleans teenager arrested after gun goes off in backpack.” The Times-Picayune (LA), 9/12/2011