Middle-schooler arrested for weilding knife
A scuffle in the lunch line between two South Tahoe Middle School students Tuesday turned deadly serious after one boy pulled a knife.
South Lake Tahoe Police Department Officer Pete VanArnum said the argument between the two seventh-graders began over their places in the line.
“They got to shoving each other and one pulled a butterfly knife, locked the blade into place, and threatened the other boy,” VanArnum said.
Despite the use of the knife, school officials said the incident didn’t garner large notice and was only witnessed by a few students and no adults.
The boy on the receiving end of the threat approached VanArnum, who was in the lunchroom at the time, and told him about the threats after the other boy had returned to class. VanArnum said when the 12-year-old was contacted in the classroom, he still had possession of the knife. A couple of students who were in the lunchroom at the time confirmed the first boy’s account, VanArnum said.
The 12-year-old boy was arrested on suspicion of brandishing a weapon and transported to juvenile hall in Placerville. Principal Mike Greenfield said a mandatory recommendation of expulsion for the student would go before the school board.
On Wednesday morning, Greenfield talked to students through the school’s closed television system.
“I explained the incident, and explained why the boy was now in juvenile hall,” Greenfield said. “I also explained that although people can buy butterfly knives in Nevada, they are illegal in California, and that I myself would be breaking the law if I possessed one.”
A butterfly knife is one in which the handle splits apart and comes together to totally cover the blade when it is not in use. VanArnum said the knives are popular with gang members. He added that the boy in question isn’t a member of a gang.
Greenfield said the school also fights crime and problems through the school’s hot-line number. Any student or parent can call the line that goes through a company in Ohio. The caller leaves a message with a computer. The message is transcribed and faxed to the school’s administration. Greenfield faxes a response, and the caller can call back in three days with a identification number and hear the response.
“The callers have total anonymity,” he said. “I can carry on a conversation with someone in the building through Ohio. We’ve had 20 or so calls since the system was installed in January. There have been a couple of times where callers have allowed us to stop things from happening. We’ve been told about fights planned for after school, and had time to bring the children in and end the problem then.”
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