Godchaux student fires handgun in class

Published 12:00 am Monday, May 2, 2005


Staff Reporter

RESERVE-A student discharged a gun at Leon Godchaux Junior High in Reserve on Wednesday, striking no one, but putting a bullet in the classroom floor.

According to Ann LaBorde, director of personnel and legal services for the St. John the Baptist Parish School Board, the 15-year-old student was sitting in his morning math class with the gun in his pocket.

The gun discharged around 10 a.m., sending everyone in class, including the suspect, fleeing the room.

LaBorde said the child then confessed and led administrators to the gun, which had been thrown in a drain after vacating the classroom.

He claimed that he thought the gun was a cigarette lighter, and when he stuck his hand in his pocket, it accidentally fired, putting a single bullet in the floor.

The student said he got the firearm earlier from a 14-year-old fellow student, who later was questioned and confessed.

LaBorde said the gun was found by the 14-year old before he got to campus, but it was unclear where it came from.

Maj. Mike Tregre, of the St. John the Baptist Parish Sheriff’s Office, said the boy has explained where he got it, but police are still investigating his story.

“We are not able to determine, as of yet, just exactly where and how he got the weapon,” said Tregre.

The gun was a .25 caliber semiautomatic handgun, and LaBorde said it was “small, one of those that looks like a cigarette lighter.”

Both students will be expelled, but LaBorde said the school board believes violence was not planned.

“There was no intent to use or show or harm anyone with the gun,” said LaBorde, “No students or employees were threatened with the gun.”

Letters from the school superintendent were sent out to all parents on Thursday.

Tregre said the matter was handled quickly and without incident.

“The school board did a very thorough investigation and had everything laid out for us by time we got there,” Tregre said.

LaBorde later said that the school did not need to be closed the day of the shooting, because there was simply no reason to believe there was any impending danger.

“The weapon was immediately confiscated and then the biggest problem was that these kids had a gun on campus and did not turn it in.”

The two students were transported to the correctional center in LaPlace where they were booked with illegal possession of a concealed weapon and then taken to the juvenile detention center.

Tregre said the 15-year-old was also booked with illegal discharge of a weapon.

They appeared in court on Friday.