Police say school officials acted “swiftly and appropriately” in air-soft gun incident

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By Max Bowen-max.bowen@northstarreporter.com

North Attleborough Police Chief Richard McQuade said an investigation into an incident involving an air-soft gun at the high school showed that it was handled appropriately, crediting communication between the two departments.

In a statement, McQuade said that last Wednesday, a student was identified as having a firearm during the early morning hours of school. He noted that the gun was initially reported as being fake. The student was removed and the air-soft gun located and confiscated.

In prior media reports, it was said that the incident took 20 minutes to resolve, but McQuade said it was in fact less than 10.

For anyone to suggest that this incident was not taken seriously by school officials is simply not true,” said McQuade in the statement.

During a School Committee meeting on Nov. 1, Superintendent John Antonucci said since that day he’s been in contact with the town’s chief of police and is committed to making improvements if they’re needed. But he stands by the handling of the incident.

The information showed there was no real threat,” said Antonucci at the Nov. 1 meeting. “We’ve talked a lot about it to see if there were any gaps, if there was something we can improve upon. Of course we can improve.”

Antonucci said that the student who was in possession of the gun had borrowed it from a classmate and brought it to the school to return it. He said the student “made a very poor decision” and that it was “in the best of circumstances an inappropriate thing to have in the school building.”

McQuade said that the police has some of the most progressive safety measures in place when it comes to school safety and the schools adhere to an up-to-date security plan in the event of an emergency.

Response to these announcements has been mixed, with some praising the efforts and others calling for a more thorough investigation. On Facebook, one commenter questioned how a student can tell a fake gun from a real one and that a 10-minute response is not acceptable. Others asked why a lockdown wasn’t done immediately.

Regarding the concerns raised by parents, Antonucci said he appreciates the issues being raised. On the subject of a lockdown, he said it’s not a panacea for every situation. He encouraged the public to look beyond what they read on social media or news accounts.

We will take the information and make changes as needed,” he said. “We need to look forward.”

Town Council President Justin Pare was at the meeting and said that approximately $1 million has been spent on improvements to school security, such as stronger doors and better communication systems. Antonucci said that he and the police will review what happened in the coming days.

It’s work that never ends,” he said.