Stepfather federally charged after child brings stolen gun to Blossomwood Elementary
HUNTSVILLE, AL (WAFF) - Officials confirm a Blossomwood Elementary School student was shot in the hand on September 17.
Huntsville City Schools Superintendent Christie Finley said two second-graders were playing with the gun in a restroom during physical education class. The weapon discharged and hit one of the students in the hand.
Finley said the P.E. teacher immediately administered first aid, contacted campus security, and worked to ensure all students were safe. Campus security coordinated with Huntsville police, who arrived on the scene around 11 a.m.
The child was transported to Huntsville Hospital. The injury was not life-threatening.
Huntsville police confirm that Letroy Cole Jr., the stepfather of the student who brought the stolen gun to school, is now being charged with receiving stolen property and unlawful possession of a firearm as a convicted felon.
Police say that the child had seen where the gun was hidden in the home before bringing it to school.
Police say that Cole admitted to possessing the gun and said he found it behind his apartment a year a half earlier. That gun had been reported stolen in March 2017 during a vehicle break-in case in Huntsville. Authorities also say Cole said he knew he was a convicted felon and was not supposed to have a gun.
Cole was booked into the Madison County Jail on September 18 on a $15,000 bond before posting bail that same day.
Federal agents with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives later arrested Cole on Oct. 1 and charged him with being a convicted felon in possession of a firearm.
Cole is now facing a maximum of 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. He had also previously faced felony charges in 1995 and 2002 in Cook County, Illinois.
ATF is now investigating the case along with Huntsville police and the Madison County district attorney’s office.
Finley also sent a note to parents regarding the incident. It reads:
"There has been a lot of information about the incident that took place today, and it is important to me that I reach out to each of you about the events that occurred. This morning, two second grade students were playing with a firearm in the restroom during P.E. While they were handling the weapon, it discharged and injured one of the student’s hands.
Immediately after this happened, the P.E. teacher responding to the incident did exactly what she was supposed to do. She made sure the injured student received first aid. She contacted campus security and worked to ensure that all of the students in her class were safe. Campus security coordinated with Huntsville Police, who promptly responded to the scene and made sure that the gun was removed from the school. We never put the campus on lockdown because this was an accident. Once the accident occurred, no other students were in danger. The school was safe, and class continued for our students.
I believe routine is important for our students. So, tomorrow morning, we are going to have a normal school day. We want you to bring your students to class, and for our teachers to move forward with their lessons. That is not to say that there won’t be some changes moving forward.
First, for the foreseeable future, we will have extra security on campus. We want safe schools, and we want you all to feel secure on our campuses. Also, I will be at Blossomwood tomorrow to support the school. Second, the Huntsville Police Department is still investigating this situation, so the students involved in the incident will not be on campus. Third, I want to make some changes as we move forward.
I am going to work with the Board to implement a clear backpack policy, district-wide. We have already begun doing this for athletic events, and we will be expanding this to our schools. This will make it harder for students to bring prohibited items on our campus. I also plan to start a task force that will focus on the development of strategies to hold parents accountable for gun safety, and I anticipate the full support of our city leaders.
Tomorrow night from 5:30 pm to 6:30 pm, we will be holding an informational meeting at the BES Cafeteria. I plan to discuss these and other initiatives during that meeting, and I welcome you to attend.
I know that today was hard for the Blossomwood Family, but I’d be remiss if I didn’t take a moment to praise Mr. Burton and his staff. From the outset of this incident, Mr. Burton and his team remained focused on protecting our students, engaging with parents, and facilitating a smooth end of the school day.
One single event does not define a school. As a former parent and principal of Blossomwood Elementary, we have a legacy of outstanding teachers, staff, and students, and that legacy will continue. I look forward to working with all of you to evaluate and update our programs so that all students can enjoy a safe, positive learning experience."
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