Police: Student brought loaded handgun to Lawrence High School

A student at Lawrence High School brought a loaded handgun to school on Wednesday morning, police said. The student was taken into custody without incident after the school’s resource officer located the student and found the handgun.

At about 8:30 a.m., administrators at the high school were told the student possibly had a weapon in school. They informed Lawrence Township Police Department School Resource Officer Steven Austin, and together they located the student and recovered the loaded handgun. The student has been charged with possession of a weapon, possession of a weapon for unlawful purposes, possession of a firearm on school grounds, and possession of a defaced firearm.

The Lawrence Township Police Department, in conjunction with the Lawrence High School administration, Mercer County Prosecutors Office, and Mercer County Sheriffs Department, began conducting a detailed investigation after the gun was discovered. The school was placed in lockdown and a K-9 dog sniffed every backpack at the school. No other weapons were located during the investigation. The exterior of the school and the surrounding area were also searched by officers, police said.

“When it was determined that there was no imminent threat, we moved to a shelter in place. This allowed the students to remain in their first-period class. Working with the police, out of an abundance of caution, we searched the building including all student backpacks. After the search, the building was cleared and students were permitted to continue with the rest of the day,” Superintendent of Schools Ross Kasun said in a message to parents Wednesday afternoon.

“The safety and security of our students and staff will always be our top priority,” Kasun said. “Weapons of any kind are not permitted on or near school property. Any student caught with a weapon will be referred to law enforcement and punished accordingly.”

The school made counselors available to all students who needed or wanted to speak with someone about the incident, which happened a week after a student at Oxford High School in Michigan shot and killed four classmates. The school did not search the student for a gun at OXford High, even though there were many red flags that he might carry out a shooting, including writing and a drawing a teacher discovered there.

On Dec. 2, police in South Brunswick charged a student who brought a handheld taser to the Crossroads Middle School. School administrators located the taser in the student’s backpack after the student posted an image of the taser on social media. The student was charged with one count of having a prohibited weapon on school grounds.

In that instance, South Brunswick Police Chief Raymond Hayducka credited students who came forward to report the social media post. “These young people made a difference today by alerting officials when they saw a problem. I want to thank them for their courage in speaking up,” Hayducka said. “There is no place in our schools for any type of weapon, including tasers.”