WESTVILLE | A Westville eighth-grader is serving a five-day suspension from school for waving what appeared to be a gun in the school parking lot.
As it turned out, the 13-year-old boy was in possession of a laser pointer, which police view as dangerous even if it's not shaped like a firearm.
"They are very dangerous in and of themselves, but anytime you have anything that looks like a firearm it's obviously a danger and would be considered a credible threat," said LaPorte County police Capt. Mike Kellems.
All comment from the school corporation was directed Monday to Curtiss Strietelmeier, the superintendent of the Metropolitan School District of New Durham Township. He was out of town and could not be reached for comment.
LaPorte County Police on Thursday were called to Westville School, a building for students in grades K-12.
According to police, a parent waiting to pick up her son from school noticed the boy in the parking lot waving what she believed was a gun in his right hand while holding some books in his other hand.
The next day, police said the boy's locker was searched but no weapon was found.
Investigators then spoke to the boy's mother who revealed her son had a laser pointer "that could look like a gun," police said.
Law enforcement officers chose not to pursue charges but left any discipline up to the school administration, which decided to put the boy on five days of out of school suspension under a policy that prohibits guns or anything that resembles a gun or weapon on school property, said police.
Police said the investigation revealed the boy obtained the laser pointer from a classmate who was placed on three days of out of school suspension.
Kellems said the LaPorte County Sheriff's has firearms with lasers built in and attached for accuracy so that's why one shaped like a gun even if it's just used for fun is a recipe for potential disaster with police on hand who could mistake the laser for a firearm.
It's also against the law in Indiana to point a laser at a police officer because the beam of light can blur vision if shined in the eye, said Kellems, who once arrested a LaPorte student for shining a laser in his face when he was a school liason officer.
"Lasers aren't made to be toys. It's unfortunate they're kind of marketed as a toy or a gimmick but they're not meant to be toys. They shouldn't be used as toys," said Kellems.