SEATTLE (Reuters) - An 11-year-old student was charged with attempted assault and other crimes on Thursday after bringing a handgun, some 400 bullets, and several kitchen knives to his middle school in southern Washington state, police said.
The boy brought a semi-automatic .22 caliber handgun and the other weapons from his house on Wednesday, with the intent of attacking another student at the Frontier Middle School in Vancouver, Washington, said Kim Kapp, a Vancouver Police Department spokeswoman.
“He told officers he had heard a voice in his head telling him to shoot another student,” said Kapp. “Fortunately, everything was found very early into this situation.”
The school, about 20 miles from Portland, Oregon, was put on lockdown for roughly two hours and there were no injuries, Kapp said.
Police arrested the boy on Wednesday and booked him for attempted murder, unlawful possession of a firearm and possession of a weapon at school, according to the arresting officer’s declaration of probable cause.
The boy appeared in juvenile court on Thursday morning, and the attempted murder charge was dropped. He is being held in a juvenile detention facility.
He told police the voices told him to shoot another student in the arm for calling one of his friends “gay” and then shoot himself in the head, according to court documents.
His arrest came after a string of violent incidents in U.S. schools, including two this week, which have reignited a national debate over gun control.
A 14-year-old boy pleaded not guilty on Wednesday to killing a math teacher, whose body was discovered in the woods behind his high school in the Boston area.
And, on Monday, a student armed with a semi-automatic handgun killed a math teacher and wounded two classmates before killing himself at his Nevada middle school.
In February, two fifth-grade boys were arrested after bringing a knife and gun to school in an alleged murder-rape plot that also targeted other children in eastern Washington state.
In the Vancouver incident on Wednesday, one of the boy’s parents notified the school that they were missing several kitchen knives.
School officials found the knives in the student’s backpack along with the bulk of the ammunition and alerted police. Police then found the unloaded firearm and two loaded .22 caliber magazines in the boy’s pockets.
“As far as we know, the school was unaware of the gun until police got there,” Kapp said.
Reporting by Eric M. Johnson; editing by Gunna Dickson