, Newburyport, MA

November 22, 2012

Suspension ends for student after gun incident

By Dave Rogers
Staff Writer

---- — NEWBURY — A Triton Regional High School football player suspended last Friday for unknowingly bringing an unloaded shotgun into the school’s parking lot, was back at school yesterday a day after police cleared him of all possible charges.

In an email message sent to parents yesterday, Triton Regional High School Principal Kathryn Dawe said it has been determined the student hadn’t broken school rules regarding possession of a dangerous weapon.

“And is therefore no longer under school suspension,” Dawe wrote in her email.

The student, whom neither police nor school officials would identify, was immediately suspended pending criminal investigation by local police after an unloaded shotgun and birdshot ammunition were found in the bed of his truck.

It was determined, however, that the shotgun belonged to the student’s 24-year-old relative who had left it in the truck after a recent hunting trip. The student was not charged with bringing the gun onto the school campus.

The student’s relative, Nicholas Ruocco of Lexington, faces a charge of improper storage of a non large-capacity weapon and will be summonsed to Newburyport District Court. The student had no knowledge that the weapon was in his truck, according to Newbury police.

“It’s difficult to see there has been a breach of school rules and given that is the case, the question would arise is whether the suspension would continue. School rules talk abut being in possession,” Triton School Superintendent Christopher Farmer said yesterday.

Farmer said the student was pulled out of school Friday and returned Wednesday afternoon. He will be allowed to play in today’s annual Thanksgiving football game against Pentucket Regional High School.

The unloaded firearm was discovered by K-9 police units from the Essex County Sheriff’s Office and local police while they were conducting a random search for narcotics on school grounds. The shotgun was located inside a case in the cluttered bed of the truck among other hunting gear. It was quickly determined the weapon had been inadvertently left in the bed of the truck after the student and his licensed relative were pheasant hunting. Newbury police later determined the student had no idea the weapon was in the back of his truck.

In February 2011, a 14-year-old student was charged with bringing a dangerous weapon to school in addition to disorderly conduct and disrupting a school assemble charges. Police determined the weapon the student had brought to school wasn’t illegal but violated school rules. The weapon was not a firearm, according to police.

Farmer classified Friday’s search of school grounds as planned but random, saying similar searches are conducted throughout the school year. The search yielded a small quantity of marijuana found inside another student’s backpack.

“The high school administration has taken appropriate action,” Farmer said, referring to the owner of the backpack.