Police arrest Va. boy for bringing gun to school

MANASSAS, Va. (WJLA) - Police have arrested a nine-year-old boy for taking a gun to school, along with the 29-year-old family friend who allowed the boy access to the gun.

Prince William County police said Friday that they responded to Ellis Elementary on 10400 Kim Graham Lane in the county area of Manassas, around 9:30 a.m. Thursday to investigate a report of a handgun on school property.

According to Prince William County Police, the student brought a disassembled handgun to school in a g case. He showed it off to other students, one of whom told a teacher, who along with other staff members took possession of the gun before calling police.

The boy later told investigators he felt like he had been getting bullied at school, and police say the gun was left unsecured at the residence of a known acquaintance to the child – a man who is now facing criminal charges.

In a letter to parents, Ellis Principal Caroline Goddard made it clear the gun was in pieces and could not be fired, adding “students were never in immediate danger…Continued safety was assured because a student did the right thing by reporting this matter to an adult.”

Police said officers responded to the school and secured the handgun without incident. The boy was arrested, and later released to a family member.

Meanwhile, Travis Pettie Sr., 29, of Statesboro Court in Manassas was charged with contributing to the delinquency of a minor for not properly securing the handgun.

Later on Friday, ABC 7 spoke with the boy's grandmother at length off-camera, and she began by telling us that this was her worst nightmare come true.

She says her grandson is relatively new to the school, and about three weeks ago, he told his parents that an older boy on the bus was “messing with me.”

However, he did not go into detail, and she says he is now telling them the older boy even hit him, called him names, and took his backpack.

According to the grandmother, the boy reported the bullying to the school bus attendant, but the information was apparently never passed on to school officials or to his parents.

"I think he was trying to frighten the kid who was bullying him...that doesn't excuse it, but I think he was scared," says the grandmother. "I wish he had told us what was going on."

She adds that the gun’s owner had the weapon hidden in a closet, and it is still unclear how her grandson knew it was there in the first place:

"My heart goes out to the other children who may have been frightened by this. I'm worried for my grandson, but I'm worried about them too."