The father of a 9-year-old student who brought an unloaded gun to a Las Vegas elementary school Wednesday could face a child endangerment charge, school district police said.
Clark County School District police Capt. Roberto Morales said Thursday that detectives were in the process of asking the district attorney’s office to consider charging the boy’s father based on the circumstances of the case.
The gun didn’t belong to the father but he had “authority over the weapon … so it’s his responsibility to secure,” Morales said.
The boy brought the .22-caliber handgun and ammunition to Helen Smith Elementary Wednesday morning and showed the gun to another student. A third student overheard the discussion and reported it to a teacher, he said.
Officials found an unloaded gun in the student’s backpack, with bullets and an ammunition magazine, Morales said. No threats were made, he said.
Because of his age the student was referred to social services rather than being arrested.
District Attorney Steve Wolfson said Wednesday that he couldn’t recall an instance when his office charged a parent for a child bringing a gun to school, “but there could be circumstances where we could bring charges.”
Requests for further comment Thursday were not immediately returned.
Recent child cases
Unlike the elementary school incident, in which the weapon was not fired, recent local cases of parents charged after children obtained guns have typically involved deaths.
In July, 26-year-old Michael Logan of Las Vegas pleaded guilty to charges of child abuse and prohibited ownership of a firearm. His 2-year-old son, Messiah, was killed May 30 in a shooting.
Logan had previously faced a manslaughter charge before it was dropped in June.
Authorities have said a 10-year-old boy fired a shot from a 9 mm handgun inside Logan’s northeast valley home that left Messiah dead.
Logan’s attorney, Douglas Crawford, had argued that his client was asleep at the time of the shooting and immediately tried to render aid after he heard the gunshot. The attorney had accused investigators of distorting statements from witnesses who said Logan brought the gun into his home.
Logan’s sentencing is scheduled for Oct. 9, court records show.
Last year the district attorney’s office charged the parents of 4-year-old Bradley Whitis after he died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound in August. His parents, Ronald and Kimberly Whitis, were each charged with child abuse after they allegedly left one of their guns unsecured inside of their house. Ronald Whitis was also charged with child abuse resulting in substantial bodily harm.
Court documents show Ronald Whitis pleaded guilty to a count of child abuse and was sentenced to three years of probation with two weeks of jail time. Kimberly Whitis pleaded no contest to a charge of aiding or permitting a child to use or possess a gun. She was required to complete community service and parenting classes, court records show.