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Student with BB gun prompts Wilmington High lockdown

By Travis Andersen
Globe Staff / December 4, 2010

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WILMINGTON — Wilmington High School was placed in lockdown yesterday after a student brought in a BB gun that resembled a 9mm handgun, authorities said.

Schools superintendent Joanne Benton told reporters during a press conference that the male student displayed the Airsoft BB gun to other students and faculty about 9 a.m. She said police were called and classes went into lockdown mode, in which doors were locked and students sat in a corner of each room with the lights out. They were later dismissed so police could secure the grounds, she said.

Catherine Woodbury has two sons at the school. She said they called her at work when they were dismissed about 11 a.m. “They sounded concerned, but they felt like the police had everything under control,’’ she said.

Sophomore Gabriella Perrino, 16, said she was not frightened by the news, because the student had only brought in a BB gun.

“I didn’t think it’d be fatal,’’ she said, adding that she was more “confused as to what was going on’’ than scared.

Police Chief Michael Begonis said the gun was not loaded and the student did not threaten anyone.

He said that while students were never in danger, “obviously they were scared and upset.’’ He said some students texted each other about the incident but he did not elaborate.

“It was a nonviolent situation,’’ he said.

Begonis and Benton declined to release any details about the student’s identity, mental state, or motivation for bringing a gun to school. They also did not say whether the student would face arrest or discipline. A spokeswoman for Middlesex District Attorney Gerard T. Leone Jr. said his office is investigating the incident along with local police.

Benton said that because the incident was believed to be isolated, all after-school activities proceeded as scheduled yesterday.

Wilmington resident Susan LeFave put her hand over her heart in a shopping plaza parking lot in town when informed of the events at the high school. She said she was glad no one was injured and that even though her son attends a local elementary school, she still immediately thought of his well-being.

Travis Andersen can be reached at tandersen@globe.com.