Picayune board member says student with gun found in car expelled

Published 4:46 pm Friday, October 13, 2006

A member of the Picayune Municipal School Board says a 17-year-old student who brought a gun to high school in her car has been expelled.

Duane Wheat, a board member and the girl’s uncle, said his niece had stashed the .38-caliber handgun in her car before driving to school.

Wheat said his niece was a good student, maintained a high grade point average and was involved in many extracurricular activities.

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Wheat said a fight during a weekend party in mid-August sparked a feud, which has played out on the personal pages of MySpace.com and cell phone text messages. The quarrel eventually led to his niece packing the pistol registered to her father and driving to school.

“There was a fight and my niece did grab a beer bottle and hit one of the girls and she got in her car and called 911,” Wheat told The Sun Herald newspaper. “She got a lot of threats.”

Picayune police discovered the gun in the girl’s car on Aug. 24, three weeks after the new school year had begun. She was arrested and charged with possession of a firearm on school property, according to the police report.

The girl, who has not been identified, was suspended for nine days. The school board met Tuesday behind closed doors to discuss the situation but did not announce its decision publicly. The meeting drew protests from parents and other students.

Wheat’s comments were the first news about action taken against the girl.

Wheat said he did not stay for the part the school board meeting where the case was discussed.

He said his niece had no plans of using the gun at school.

“She wasn’t planning to do anything with the gun, she only had the gun in there if this bunch had gotten after her,” Wheat said. “With the school security officers and administration, I feel the Picayune school is still probably one of the safest schools in the state of Mississippi.”