EAST LIVERPOOL - A 9-year-old boy is facing suspension from school after reportedly admitting to police he took three live bullets onto a school bus Tuesday.
According to Detective Don Fickes, "Three good students went to their principal at LaCroft Elementary (Wednesday) and said they saw a 9-year-old third-grader with bullets on the bus."
The boy stayed home from school Wednesday with a stomach ache, but police spoke with him and his parents, who were "very cooperative."
"His father said, 'No wonder he said he had a stomach ache,'" Fickes said, adding that the father confirmed the .38-caliber bullets had come from their vehicle.
The boy's grandfather had purchased a box of items at Rogers Community Auction and the three live rounds were found inside the box. The family planned on disposing of them, and they were sitting in a cup holder in their family van to be disposed of, according to police.
Before that could happen, the boy stuck them in his bookbag and took them with him on the bus, police reported.
"He realized he made a mistake, and that's why he left them on the bus. He panicked when he was seen with them," Fickes said.
The bullets had been found by other students, stuck between a seat and side of the bus, and they told the bus driver about them, leading to a lock down at both the high school and Westgate Middle School Tuesday.
During the lock downs, police officers questioned every child in those buildings who had ridden that bus to school, plus searched their bookbags and lockers.
There was never any gun involved, and police said the family does not own guns, emphasizing it was just a case of the bullets being in the box of items purchased by the grandfather.
"We're proud of the students at LaCroft for coming to the principal," Fickes said.
LaCroft Principal Linda Lindsay said she didn't know why the students waited until the next day to divulge what they had seen, but speculated the school's positive behavior lessons stress the importance of telling a parent, rather than tattling, in such instances and said perhaps they had spoken first with their parents the previous night.
"We really do strive to teach kids what's important. Tattling versus telling what's important is a big lesson. Maybe they had to think of the ramifications for a day (before telling). I'm proud of each and every one of them," Lindsay said.
Superintendent James Herring said district policy calls for a 10-day suspension, during which an expulsion hearing will be held that he anticipates will include himself, principals and police officers.
He admitted, "It's usually not a child this age involved" in such hearings, but said numerous aspects will be explored, including whether the alleged act was intentional or harmful.
There have been times, albeit not with such serious situations, in which suspensions have been shortened, Herring said, and he noted students placed on suspension are encouraged to continue with their school work, although they do not receive credit for the work.
"The kids (who told) did the right thing. Did this kid make a terrible mistake? Yes, big time, but all the other kids did the right thing," Herring said.