Alice Drive Middle student found with loaded handgun; Sumter officials say no one was injured


Police are investigating after a 13-year-old Alice Drive Middle School student was found in possession of a loaded handgun Thursday afternoon at the school.

According to a Sumter Police Department spokeswoman, officers responded to the school about 1 p.m. after receiving notification from a school administrator that a teenage boy was found with a handgun in his backpack. It was a fellow student at the school who initially reported the incident to a teacher, officials said.

No students were injured in the incident, according to police and Sumter School District officials.

Police are charging the 13-year-old boy with carrying a weapon on school property, possession of a weapon by a person under 18 and violation of South Carolina gun law, according to Tonyia McGirt, public information officer with the police department.

The teenager is being held at a state Department of Juvenile Justice facility in Columbia.

Based on an initial investigation by law enforcement, there was no planned threat to students or staff at the 40 Miller Road school. However, because of the prompt actions of another student to alert a teacher, any unintentional harm to children or adults was averted, McGirt said.

A school administrator discovered the handgun after being informed by faculty.

The teen, whose name isn't being released because of his age, later admitted bringing the loaded gun to school, according to McGirt.

She added officers are working to determine how and from where the teen got the firearm.

According to Shelly Galloway, the district's executive director of communication and community engagement, no threats were made against any student at any time.

The district issued a statement to all parents/guardians of students at the school that its top priority is safety for students and staff and that administration will act in accordance with state law and the district's code of conduct.

"Our first and most important priority is the safety of our students and staff," the statement read. "Alice Drive Middle School strives to create an environment where students feel comfortable talking with administrators and staff to report concerns. We commend the student who came forward to report this allegation. Parents or guardians are encouraged to stress to their children the importance of notifying school officials immediately."

In the notice, the district also advised parents to check their child's book bag regularly to ensure it doesn't contain anything that could be harmful.

"Together, we can help ensure the safety of our students."