Updated: Discovery of rifle, shotgun in student vehicle prompts lockdown at Sullivan North

Rick Wagner • Aug 13, 2018 at 1:57 PM

KINGSPORT — A rifle and shotgun, which a school resource officer found in a Sullivan North High School student’s vehicle on campus, led to a roughly 45-minute lockdown early Monday afternoon.

The weapons also will lead to school system and law enforcement actions against the male student who brought the firearms. However, both guns were unloaded and no ammunition was present, Director of Schools Evelyn Rafalowski said.

According to a new release from the Sullivan County Sheriff’s Office, at 12:15 p.m., a school resource officer at North was asked to check a student’s vehicle in the parking lot. The student in question, who was not identified by name, age or grade by authorities, faces unspecified pending charges from the SCSO as well as discipline from the school system for a “zero-tolerance” violation, Rafalowski said Monday evening.

That means he could face “expulsion of not less than one calendar year,” the school system’s student handbook says.

“The student had taken them, his hunting firearms, to his girlfriend’s dad the night before to look at and forgot to take them out,” Rafalowski said. As for why the SRO checked the vehicle, Rafalowski responded that two students were out of class and in the parking lot at a vehicle without permission.

“He (the SRO) wasn’t checking every car in the lot,” Rafalowski said. “He checked that car for a reason.”

Rafalowski said “no firearms” signs are posted at all Sullivan County schools and that the system’s student handbook also lays out the prohibition for students, as well as faculty, staff and the public, to bring firearms on campus.

The handbook cites Tennessee Code Annotated 49-6-4204 in allowing vehicle searches for dangerous weapons. As a zero-tolerance offense, it is to result in expulsion of the student for “not less than one calendar year” although the director has the power to modify that punishment on a “case-by-case” basis.

Zero tolerance applies to “any student who possesses, handles, transmits or uses a weapon or knife on school property, on a school bus or at any school activity.” Those include, but are not limited to an explosive, firearm, switchblade, box cutter, razor blade, pocket knife of at least two-and-one-half inches and any other “knife-like instrument,” the policy says on page 20.


As reported earlier:

KINGSPORT — A local high school was on a “brief” lockdown Monday after a school resource officer found a rifle and shotgun in a student’s vehicle.

According to a new release from the Sullivan County Sheriff’s Office, at 12:15 p.m. Monday, Aug. 13, a school resource officer at Sullivan North High School/Middle School was asked to check a student’s vehicle in the parking lot of the school.

During the search, the officer located a rifle and a shotgun inside the vehicle.

“The Sullivan County school system placed North High School on a brief lockdown while the vehicle was being searched,” the news release said.

The lockdown has now been lifted, and no students are in any danger, although charges are pending.

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