By James Lomuscio
UPDATE A male student’s overheard threat to shoot a teacher and then go on a school shooting rampage led to a lock down and early dismissal today at Staples High School, Police Chief Foti Koskinas said.
Superintendent of Schools Coleen Palmer addresses reporters as Police Chief Foti Koskinas and First Selectman Jim Marpe look on. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for WestportNow.com
The student, a juvenile whose father has AR-15 rifles and other guns locked in a home safe, is in custody and undergoing psychiatric evaluation at Norwalk Hospital, Koskinas said.
Police were seen carrying out a search on Kirock Place off of Center Street as part of the investigation.
“To the best of our knowledge, all of the firearms have been accounted for,” said Koskinas, who added the boy’s parents have been cooperative and that the firearms were responsibly secured.
He added that no weapons were found at Staples. However, there was concern about possible weapons at another residence, plus the possibility of “ghost guns.”
Ghost guns are unfinished firearms that can be purchased online and arrive in the mail. Since they are unfinished, they can skirt federal firearms laws, making them nearly impossible to track, Koskinas said.
“I can’t say enough about the student who spoke up,” Koskinas said about the Staples student who reported the threat at 9 a.m. to school and police officials.
Koskinas made his comments at a Police Headquarters 4 p.m. news conference where he was joined by First Selectman Jim Marpe, Schools Superintendent Colleen Palmer, Staples Principal James D’Amico and state legislators Rep. Jonathan Steinberg, Rep. Gaille Lavielle and Sen. Toni Boucher.
“We’re very fortunate that we averted a very serious tragedy at our high school,” Palmer said.
She credited D’Amico for sending out a memo Monday, urging students to speak up if they heard or saw on social media any possible threats.
The memo came in the wake of the Feb. 14 Parkland, Florida school massacre in which 17 students were shot dead and 14 injured when Nikolas Crus, 19, opened fire on a high school with an AR-15.
At Monday night’s Board of Education meeting, what had happened in Parkland intensified a discussion on Palmer’s agenda since the fall for an armed school resource officer at Staples.
Palmer said that the shelter-in-place plan enacted today following the threat “went the way it was supposed to have.”
“These events take a toll on students and staff,” she said, adding that drill planned for later this week had been canceled.
She said Staples would open as usual on Wednesday unless there are other developments.
State legislators present touted how Connecticut led the nation with strong legislation they voted for following the Sandy Hook Elementary School shootings in December 2012.
They also said they supported state bills to ban bump stocks, which can turn semi-automatic rifles into machine guns, as well as banning ghost guns.
Koskinas said that while Connecticut is perceived as having pulled away from other states with its tough gun legislation, “We should be pulling farther away from those other states.”
“We can do better background checks and ban ghost guns,” he said.