A Longview High School student who was arrested Wednesday after telling a teacher he brought a gun on campus was carrying the weapon out of a fear of gangs, his mother said Thursday.
Ronder Montgomery said she and her son, 17-year-old Jacorian Herman Harris, remain concerned about harassment by gangs on campus.
“Somewhat, with everything that’s going on with this gang activity,” she said, standing at her North Longview front door. “We’ll just kind of see how it goes.”
Harris was questioned by Longview police and arrested on a felony weapons charge shortly after 10 a.m. Wednesday, school officials said.
District spokeswoman Sarah LeBus said Harris voluntarily told a teacher he inadvertently brought the handgun to school in his backpack.
“He’s been suspended,” LeBus said.
Harris was booked into the Gregg County Jail at noon Wednesday on a charge of unlawfully carrying a weapon in a prohibited place.
The charge is a third-degree felony carrying a punishment of up to 10 years in prison and a maximum fine of $10,000.
“The student realized he had the gun in his backpack and informed a teacher,” LeBus wrote in a news release to media Thursday morning. “The teacher then reported the firearm to the student resource officers.”
High school Principal James Brewer sent an automated call to parents at 2:43 p.m. Thursday after news of the arrest spread.
“We know that you’ve heard about the arrest made yesterday,” he says in the mass phone call. “Because this student actually self-reported himself and there was no ill intent, I did not feel that it warranted a call. There was no danger or incident. The gun was confiscated immediately. We have received calls from parents that have asked us to inform them immediately in the future. I take full responsibility as the principal of Longview High School, and I will do a better job.”
LeBus and Jody Clements, assistant superintendent of administrative and pupil services, said a hearing will be scheduled for the teen.
Clements said the timing of the hearing probably will follow the police investigation. The hearing will give the district an opportunity to hear from a parent, he said.
“And the district makes a response to that,” he said, adding that state law has granted schools more leeway in weapons-on-campus decisions. “It used to be, if you drove up and had a gun in the car you were expelled. But, it’s not like that now.”
Clements said he had not heard of Harris being concerned about gangs, and he did not know if the student had spoken about it to high school staff members.
“To my knowledge, they hadn’t been informed of anything like that from the student,” he said, adding he was not in the room when officials questioned the student.
Clements said students do not pass through metal detectors at the high school because its multiple entrances make that unfeasible.
Meanwhile, Harris will remain home, where his mother said he was declining to comment publicly. She said she did not know the name of the gang harassing her son.
“The school’s handling it OK,” she added. “Jacorian’s a good kid, good grades.”
LeBus did not know if the gun was loaded. An arrest report by Longview police indicated the weapon was loaded. The report did not indicate a make or caliber for the handgun.
LeBus said Wednesday’s arrest did not affect the daily school routine.
“There was no lockdown, because the student turned himself in,” LeBus said. “And (school officials) immediately took the gun.”
She wasn’t prepared to say why Harris would bring a gun to school out of fear and then tell a teacher.
“I think there’s probably a deeper reason as to why,” she said. “But, I think there’s probably a reason he had the gun, and he offered it because he didn’t know what ... to do with it.”