Following two high-profile incidents earlier this school year, police and school system officials had to once again contend with disseminating information about a gun-related case involving a county school.
A Deer Park Middle School student was charged with a handgun violation after he allegedly brought ammunition to school Thursday morning. Another student was also charged after investigation revealed that the first student had traded a handgun from his home for an Xbox 360.
A Baltimore County Police Department news release concerning the incident was emailed to members of the media at 10:53 a.m. Friday.
"We were still figuring out at 10 o'clock [p.m. Thursday] what the situation was," said Elise Armacost, a police spokeswoman. "We sent out the release first thing [Friday] morning."
Police said there was no indication the students planned to harm anyone at the school.
"This is not an emergency situation where you had a kid waving a gun around in the classroom," she added.
Armacost noted that police did not send out information before the details were clear because the department did not receive reports about rumors or panic about the incident. She pointed out that police were quick to quash rumors in the case of a police-involved shooting in Catonsville that many initially believed occurred at the local high school.
"If we had during the course of the day heard about rumors, we would have addressed that," she said.
The school system did not send a letter addressing the incident to the families of Deer Park Middle students but did send recorded calls through its emergency notification system Connect-Ed, said Dale Rauenzahn, the newly appointed executive director of safety and security for Baltimore County Public Schools.
Rauenzahn's position was created in response to a shooting at Perry Hall High School and a gun threat at Stemmers Run Middle School.
"The police and the school did a great job handling the situation," he said.
Charles Herndon, a school system spokesman, said in an email that the Deer Park Middle principal sent out the Connect-Ed message at about 5:30 p.m. Thursday but did not provide a copy of the recording.