Skip to comments.Boys punished for firing airsoft guns (Update - Suspended for the rest of the school year)
Posted on 09/25/2013 7:12:25 PM PDT by servo1969
VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) - Three Virginia Beach seventh graders learned their fates Tuesday morning when they were suspended for shooting airsoft guns on private property.
During a hearing with a disciplinary committee Tuesday morning, Aidan Clark, Khalid Caraballo and a third friend were given long-term suspensions in a unanimous vote. The suspensions will last until June, but a hearing will be held January 27 to determine if they will be allowed back in school sooner.
The students' parents initially told WAVY News' Andy Fox their children were expelled, but when Fox looked at the official letter from the school, he found they were long-term suspensions and not expulsions, as was recommended by the school's principal. Their parents still feel as though their children were expelled.
Document: Letter from school officials to boys' parents
Im more than angry its like an expulsion-suspension, said Tim Clark, Aidan's father.
Like thousands of others in Hampton Roads, Caraballo and Clark play with airsoft guns. The boys were suspended because they shot two other friends who were with them while playing with the guns as they waited for the school bus September 12.
The two seventh graders say they never went to the bus stop with the guns; they fired the airsoft guns while on Caraballo's private property.
Aidans father, Tim Clark, told WAVY.com what happened next lacks commons sense. The children were suspended for possession, handling and use of a firearm. On Tuesday, that offense was changed by school officials to possession, handling and use of an airsoft gun.
Khalid's mother, Solangel Caraballo, thinks it is ridiculous the Virginia Beach City Public School System suspended her 13-year-old son and his friends because they were firing a spring-driven airsoft gun on the Caraballo's private property.
"My son is my private property," she said. "He does not become the school's property until he goes to the bus stop, gets on the bus, and goes to school."
The bus stop in question is 70 yards from the Caraballo's front yard.
Solangel Caraballo was not at home when this incident occurred. She was taking her younger son to a Head Start class. She left her 16-year -old daughter in charge.
This story that addresses Zero Tolerance extending to private property began on Sept. 9 with a 911 call from a concerned citizen.
Audio: 911 call on Sept. 9
A neighbor saw Khalid shooting the airsoft gun in his front yard three days before the incident that got the boys in trouble. She told the dispatcher, "He is pointing the gun, and it looks like there's a target in a tree in his front yard".
WAVY.com located the 911 caller and spoke to her. She confirmed Khalid was taking target practice using a zombie hunter airsoft gun to kill the zombies. There was also a net behind the target to catch the plastic pellets.
The caller also knew the gun wasn't real and said so: "This is not a real one, but it makes people uncomfortable. I know that it makes me [uncomfortable], as a mom, to see a boy pointing a gun," she told the 911 dispatcher.
The airsoft guns are designed to be non-lethal. Plastic pellets are used, and not copper bb's.
Ironically, that 911 caller's son was playing with Khalid and Aidan in the Caraballo front yard on September 12 -- the incident that got the boys in trouble. There were six children playing in an airsoft gun war.
"We see the bus come. We put the gun down. We did not take the airsoft gun to the bus stop. We did not take the gun to school," Khalid explained.
Aidan admits shooting the 911 caller's son in the arm, and Khalid admits shooting another friend in the back.
"He knew we had the airsoft gun. He knew we were playing. He knew people were getting shot. We were shooting at the tree, but he still came, and even after he was shot, he still played," Aidan said, referring to the son of the 911 caller.
However, a second 911 call from a different caller on Sept. 12 is what schools officials say led to the investigation and then suspensions. WAVY.com was unaware of the second 911 call on Monday, during our first report of the incident. On Tuesday, Virginia Beach City Public Schools said in a Facebook post that WAVY "chose not to air a 911 call from September 12 ... despite being made aware of its existence by police."
Audio: 911 call on Sept. 12
Virginia Beach Police did not mention the second 911 call when WAVY's Andy Fox called the department before his report on Monday.
Still, the second 911 call further confirms Khalid Caraballo did not leave his private property during the September 12 incident.
" ... the white child appeared to have a gun, and he was chasing the other child ... when he saw me he kind of stuck it in his pants. I don't know if it was a toy or if they were playing," said the 911 caller in the Sept. 12 call.
The caller was speaking about 12-year-old Aidan Clark, who admits he ran off Caraballo's property into the street in front of Khalid's house.
and chased him. I aimed to shoot, and I saw a car on the right," Clark said.
"He looked directly at me and the black child kept on running," the 911 caller said.
Aidan was chasing a third child, who is African American and who was also suspended. Aidan says Khalid never left his property and none of the boys shot the guns while in the street.
WAVY.com reached out to the principal of Larkspur Middle School, Matthew Delaney. In a letter obtained by WAVY.com Delaney said his investigation found the "children were firing pellet guns at each other, and at people near the bus stop." The letter from Delaney says one child was only 10 feet from the bus stop, and ran from the shots being fired, but was still hit."
Khalid insists all shots fired were on his private property. The three children firing the guns were suspended. The three others who did not fire the guns were not suspended.
Khalid thinks the suspensions are unfair: "Yes, it's unfair because we were in our yard. This had nothing to do with school. I didn't have anything at school at anytime."
The Virginia Beach City Code isn't clear, and goes back and forth. It reads no person "shall ... discharge any firearm, spring-propelled rifle or pistol ... within ... 150 yards of any building." Then it reads "no person shall use a pneumatic gun except at approved shooting ranges or within private property."
Solangel says, "That is exactly my point. It is private property."
However, the Code also requires shooting with "permission of the owner." In this case, the parent is the owner, and she did not give her son, Khalid, permission to fire the gun. He disobeyed her.
"How dare he disobey me, but this is a home issue. It's not a school issue, and it won't happen again. He will never do this again," Solangel said while looking back at Khalid with a stern face.
"I always thought this was a Dad deal, not a school deal," said Tim Clark, Aidan's father. "It was a parental issue not a school issue."
Virginia Beach Police say they do not proactively seek out to enforce this code unless "the juveniles are not exercising reasonable care." Reasonable care is defined as "the gun is discharged in a manner so the projectile is contained on the property by a fence or backstop."
Police are not charging anyone in this case. They would not discuss the specifics of their investigation because the people involved are juveniles.
Khalid said he's concerned for his future with the suspension on his school record.
"It's terrible. I won't get the chance to go to a good college. It's on your school record. The school said I had possession of a firearm. They aren't going to ask me any questions. They are going to think it was a real gun, and I was trying to hurt someone. They will say 'oh, we can't accept you.' "
Until the hearing in January, the boys will either attend Renaissance Academy or be homeschooled. Aidan's father said his son will be homeschooled. Caraballo will attend an alternative school.
The discipline committee on Tuesday included three elected school board members: Dottie Holtz, Bobby Melatti and Carolyn Weems. Melatti refused to give a comment to WAVY.com and the two others did not return our calls.
In a Twitter post Tuesday evening , Virginia Beach School Board Chairman Daniel Edwards attached a letter defending the school's disciplinary actions against the boys: "Yet somehow student safety has taken a back seat in the intense media coverage of this case. This is not an example of a public educator overreaching. This was not zero tolerance at all. This was a measured response to a threat to student safety."
Document: Daniel Edwards' letter
In the statement, Edwards also released information about Khalid's previous discipline problems at school. His parents told 10 On Your Side they are upset by that and said they signed a waiver for the school system to talk to WAVY about the airsoft incident only.
The City codes referenced in this case are as follows:
City Code 38-3, primarily section (d) Notwithstanding any other provisions of this section, it shall be unlawful for any person to discharge any firearm, spring-propelled rifle or pistol, from, on, across or within one hundred fifty (150) yards of any building, dwelling, street, sidewalk, alley, roadway or public land or public place within the city limits.
Section (f) No person shall use a pneumatic gun in the area of the city described in (a) above except (i) at approved shooting ranges or (ii) on or within private property with permission of the owner or legal possessor thereof when conducted with reasonable care to prevent a projectile from crossing the bounds of the property. For purposes of this subsection, "pneumatic gun" means any implement designed as a gun that will expel a BB or a pellet by action of pneumatic pressure, including but not limited to paintball guns. Further, for the purpose of this subsection "reasonable care" means that the pneumatic gun is discharged in a manner
so the projectile is contained on the property by a backstop, earthen embankment or fence. The discharge of projectiles across or over the bounds of the property shall create the rebuttable presumption that the use of the pneumatic gun was not conducted with reasonable care and shall constitute a Class 3 misdemeanor.
Virginia Beach Police Sergeant Adam Bernstein released the following statement with regards to this incident:
We understand that a number of juveniles possess air soft guns and have airsoft gun wars with each other, but as it relates to the city code referenced above, they are in violation of the code if the juveniles are not exercising reasonable care. Also keep in mind that this is not something that we proactively seek out to enforce. If we receive a complaint (such as in the case for which you are doing the story on), we will investigate the call for service and enforce it appropriately, i.e. warning or prosecution. We want to stress to the parents of the juveniles and the operators of these type of pneumatic guns that they need to be handled responsibly and with reasonable care to ensure that the projectile is properly contained.
I’d sue the hell out of the school ! What right do they have and more importantly, they have no jurisdiction over the kids when home. If this was the case, half the kids would be suspended. SUE em’ and get a Rolls Royce load of Air Soft guns! SUE THEM !!!!!
This is a trial balloon. The next step is to expel kids whose parents are gun owners.
Hang on, before everyone goes nuts. There’s another side to this story. Apparently the kids were using these airsofts to hit other kids. Yes, they were on their property, but the bus stop is at that location, and they were firing at kids who weren’t playing along, didn’t want to be hit, and those things sting. Where I come from, that’s grounds for a good ass-whoopin by daddy(s). The school may not (for ONCE) be out of line here.
Airsofts are harmless. How does the school get to decide what they can do about actions on private property, not on school grounds?
First line in the posted article is incorrect.
The facts: the kids were on private property. The police had no problems with the kids playing. The one kid that disobeyed his mother should be spanked. The school district has no jurisdiction in this matter and should be sued to kingdom come. The school board members that voted for this should be replaced in the next election. The neighbor that called 911 should be openly ridiculed and made an example of what is wrong with too many women in this country.
Stepping off the soapbox, I have written what needs to be written about the pussification of American boys.
Homosexuality has killed and continues to kill people.
No one has been killed by and air soft gun.
Laz - the bus stop is 70 yards away. The school has nothing to do with this. If the kids didn’t want to be hit, it could be a mater of calling the police ad filing assault charges, but from the sound of all this, it’s more like the “concerned citizen” is just a hoplophobe.
This hoplophobe has irrevocably damaged the education of a minor. She should have a civil suit brought against her if there were no criminal charges filed in any of this.
This is not the whole story, there has to be more to it than this.
This is absolutely crazy. What’s worse is the nosey neighbor who called 911 instead of talking to the parents.
The caller also knew the gun wasn’t real and said so: “This is not a real one, but it makes people uncomfortable. I know that it makes me [uncomfortable], as a mom, to see a boy pointing a gun,” she told the 911 dispatcher.
What an idiot that mother is
The school is run by lib idiots who have no sense of proportion when punishing children especially boys. Give him a very stern warning and if he does it again...
Instead you have a bunch of sadist-zombies tormenting this boy and his family
If I was a member of the bar...
....I would handle this one just for the fun of it...
These school admins are like the inmates running the asylum...
....usually easy pickin's in federal court.
My humble only...
Not on school property, not during a school function. In loco parentis does not apply here. The school it treading on the student’s civil rights.
It may be. I don’t know for sure. But it is the same model the kid has been pictured holding.
These are the kinds of people the Republican Establishment is actually afraid of... FReepers who pray need to pray for this woman's kid; the likelihood that he will properly gender identify is not high.
Ten years ago, I would have agreed. Today, it seems pretty likely that this is all there is to it.
I wouldn’t wait until the next election. Move every one of them off now before they do more harm.
Regardless, Airsoft is still a toy.
The whole country has gone completely insane.
There but for the grace of God goes half the kids in this world.
This is not a case for suspension and it is none of the schools business to start with, If anything a warning from a police officer is the most this needed.
A year suspension is crazy.
I played “chicken” with my brothers and other kids, back behind the house when nobody was looking.
Do you remember that game?
You started off about 20 feet away, and kept throwing a knife at each others feet untill someone “chickened” out, and lost “the game”.
Part of the game was making sure we weren’t caught playing it by any adult.
We knew we would all be severely punished if caught, but it was sooooo much fun!/sarcasm//
We didn’t play it at or near the school bus stop.That would have been insane!
The families may or may not have grounds to sue based only on the suspension, but revealing the child’s prior discipline record would be definite grounds for a suit if that was not covered in the waiver they signed. The family could end up ‘owning’ the school and its administrators.
If I were the parent of any of those kids, I’d home school right thru high school, and never go near a public school again. By their sophomore year, I’d have them start taking classes at the nearby community college. Unfortunately, it seems one of the families doesn’t have a dad in residence, and is not well enough off financially if a sibling is in “Head Start.”
Remember when there were NRA shooting clubs (and senior smoking lounges) in the public schools and no one thought a thing of it, no busybody neighbors to make ‘uncomfortable.’
Ok, so not cool they are riding in a Barbie jeep, but when I looked, one of them had a super soaker mounted on the front (no water), like a mounted machine gun, and the other had a good ol' cowboy pistol (38 revolver?). Anyway, they were shooting at me, the neighbor cats, cars, and everything else.
There is still hope. They maybe had to go on their sortie in a pink and purple Barbie Jeep, but by God, they were out on a patrol doing good ol' American boy stuff, shooting stuff, and asking questions later.
Schools not only consider the bus to be a school zone but the surrounding area of the bus at all times is considered a school zone.Not only that if you get dropped off at your own house they consider the drive way and everything surrounding it a school zone. I was told this by school officials from where im from.
The good mother dutifully sends her boys to Head Start and they turn out like this??? Playing with (gasp) toy guns?
Nanny Government has failed this family. the horror.
This is right in line with Clintoon’s it takes a village idiot philosophy. Liberals, like all good communists, believe that our children are the property of the state and only the state has the proper knowledge, ability and authority to raise our children. They believe that we as parents have no rights, we are simply the biological implements providing property for the state.
I'm surprised the SWAT team wasn't all over that.
lol....thanks for the laugh.
According to the article the bus stop is 70 yards from the house. I do not think the school should be able to become involved in this incident, but schools are getting more and more involved in incidents that do not happen on school grounds. I know of a couple of high school girls that went to the home of another high school girl after school and drank alcohol. The girls were all suspended from school for 5 days, which puzzled me...I see that as a parental issue.
Underage drinking is also a legal issue
There you go again... making me feel ancient... Christ... where did the past 25 years go?
Future Border Patrol agents in the making.
I had a similar situation occur 40 years ago... There was no “official” bus stop - the bus would pull up to us where ever we decided to congregate as long as we didn’t vary too much. The location never changed by more than probably 80 yards over a 6 year period.
I found myself in the middle of a in a fight one evening, about 6:30p.m., with a kid down the street. He had thought it would be fun to try and hit me across the legs with a bullwhip he had found somewhere. Now, I was told by my dad to not ever start a fight, but that if I found myself in one I had dang sure better end it - and THERE ARE NO RULES IN A FIGHT. Well with no rules and this kid armed with a whip, I was looking for anything to use. What I found (I believe it was devine providence) was a large spring as was used in a motorcyle front fork tube... There it was, just looking up at me from the freshly mown triangular shaped median located where three streets met. I had been chased to this median by the whip weilding punk... I kept my eye on it as he approached, and just before he was within striking range again, I picked up the spring and raised my new weapon above my head. The boy snap the whip my direction and I sidestepped the strike. At that moment, I threw that spring squarely at his head... He was still in a crouch and it struck him, end first, dead center on the top of his head. He hit the ground like a sack of concrete... I told him that next time he decided to take a whip to me that I would not stop with just ending the fight and that I would make sure he wouldn’t live to do it again.
Fifteen hours later, I was called into the principal’s office at my elementary school. The principal started asking me about the fight that had taken place at the bus stop. So just as I was settling down from my previous day’s rage from being attacked by the kid, I’ve got an adult giving me a hard time about something that took place 3 and 1/2 hours after school had let out... It was pretty much the last straw... I stood up, told him there was no official bus stop and that I wasn’t going to talk to him about something that had happened hours after school had let out. As I walked out of his office I told him I was going back to class and that if he wanted to talk to me any more about the incident that he had better have my dad in the office when I got there. I never heard another word about it at school.
I did, however, take great satisfaction in bloodying the nose and knocking out 3 teeth of the punk that started the whole mess - on the following Saturday afternoon (just to play it safe.) I told him that the first beating he got was for coming after me with a whip, and that the second one he had just received was for lying about the first one. Only time in my live where I actually took revenge on someone like that... Now deployment on foreign soil doesn’t count - that was just duty.
The taxpayers, or at least some of them, should exact some legal zero-tolerance on the process responsible for these outrageous outcomes.
I believe you are correct...
>> How does the school get to decide
The issue involves city codes. The school is issuing the sentence. Not sure about arrests, prosecution, trials (joking.)
Thanks for sharing that story.
amazing that you had the presence of mind and the courage to rightly tell off the principal in that situation.
By smashing that bully twice, you may have saved a lot of folks harm in the future.
Kids do all kinds of things out of sight of their parents, because they pretty quickly decide that they want to do what they want to do, and whether adults would allow it or not isn't the point. From a kid's point of view, adults don't allow anything. Or what they allow or don't allow is so arbitrary (in the mind of a child) kids just decide to hide it all.
The point is not the kids. The point is the mother, who has such an irrational fear of anything resembling a gun that she actually called 911 because some boys were playing in their own yard (which is, not to put too fine a point on it, almost a football field away from the bus stop, according to the article.) Please. This isn't normal behavior, and if you think it is, I'm concerned for the children you might be raising; and I'm certainly concerned for the ways you must be wasting 911 emergency resources in your own community.
I wouldn't bet on that. The ones I have shot could and would cause severe injury at close range if you were hit in the face or eyes. They easily break windows, and blast holes right through soda cans.
Shooting airsoft guns at other people who aren't wearing suitable masks and eye protection is stupid and reckless.
Whether or not the school should have gotten involved is an entirely different topic, but if I saw a young person shooting at other kids who did not have protective masks and eyewear I'd put a stop to it.
When I was in High School one of my electives was a “Hunting and Fishing” class.
Students actually brought rifles and shotguns to school and nobody flipped out and nobody was shot.
And this was in the SF Bay Area, back when California was a Conservative state.
When will schools start training their own swat teams and raid homes because students give them that right.
I hope they sue the school for enough money that the kids never have to wok a day in their lives.
Huh? She admits her son "becomes school property"? Poor dumb woman.
I’m not all up on the terms, but I know that paint-ball guns (using compressed air) can put a welt on you from 50+ feet away, and definitly need eye and face protection. The airsoft I think is a much smaller, soft plastic pellet about the size of a BB. But even so - eye protection would be a mandatory if it were my kids. And a talk to other kids and/or their parents.
And it sounds like two instances. The first instance sounds like all the kids were just playing and goofing around together. The second instance is poorly written, but if they were shooting at kids that didn’t want to be shot - that’s a whole different story. If it was my kids getting shot, the other kids and their parents would get a good talking to. And if that didn’t work and it happened again, I’d talk to them again, and tell them I would be calling the cops to have them discuss it with them as well. Although I suppose nowadays just the idea of a cop showing up at your door doesn’t strike the fear of God in a kid like it did when I was young.
If it was my kids doing the shooting, they’d owe the other kids an apology, and get their guns taken away for a good long time.
Of course it is a legal issue, but my point was it should not have been a school issue. The incident did not happen on school property.
As far as legal issues, schools will very seldom contact LEO for criminal actions by students at school. Normally schools want to handle it all, even though the school near me got involved in students drinking off campus, they did not notify LEO and you are right it is a legal issue.
Schools are reaching for more authority over students, but seldom report crimes. Another incident that happened here is two girls were caught smoking pot in the girl’s bathroom at the high school. One of the girls had a parent that was LEO. School called in parents, told them their children were suspended for a week...no LEO involvement planned by the school. The LEO officer took his own daughter and booked her into jail, and the school thought it was horrible.
We have to be careful not to confuse courage with anger. If I had been there long enough to study the situation and had been clearly thinking about where I was and to whom I was speaking, I would have never of said the things I said to my principal. It was my anger over the lies that had been told that caused me to say those things, not my courage.
My anger scale goes way over the red line when someone tells lies about me. My temper has gotten me in trouble more than once in the past. In this case, things just worked out.
You’ll put your eye out!