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CAPE FEAR MEMORIAL BRIDGE CLOSURE: UPDATES, RESOURCES, AND CONTEXT

Pre-K student found with loaded gun at Rachel Freeman Elementary School

New Hanover County Schools central office building.
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New Hanover County Schools central office building.

Officials confirm the loaded weapon was found in the bag belonging to a young student. After a teacher found the weapon, a school resource officer secured it and law enforcement was contacted, according to the New Hanover County Schools district and the New Hanover County Sheriff's Office.

Note: This is a developing story that will be updated with more information as it becomes available.

A pre-K student brought a loaded handgun to Rachel Freeman Elementary School on Friday, February 2, according to the New Hanover County Sheriff’s Office and the school’s principal, Stephen Buchanan.

The Sheriff’s Office said a teacher located the weapon inside the young student’s bag. The weapon was secured by a school resource officer and law enforcement was immediately contacted by the school.

According to the Sheriff’s Office, the student’s father has been charged with failure to secure a firearm from a minor — a misdemeanor offense.

Buchanan sent a message to parents:

This is Principal Stephen Buchanan with a message about a serious incident that occurred today at our school. A pre-k student was found in possession of a weapon. Our school resource officer immediately secured the weapon and ensured that students and staff were safe, and we notified law enforcement.

Every day you trust your students to our care, and nothing is more important to us than their safety. We are taking all necessary steps to help law enforcement investigate this incident and make sure it can’t happen again.

You are our partners in educating your children and keeping them safe. Please talk with your students about sharing their safety concerns with adults at school
We know you will be just as concerned about this incident as we are. We will provide updates as they’re made available. Thank you for your support and understanding during this challenging time.