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Bethel Regional High School student arrested for bringing a weapon to school

Bethel Regional High School, Bethel, Alaska
Dean Swope
Bethel Regional High School, Bethel, Alaska

According to the Lower Kuskokwim School District (LKSD), at approximately 8:30 a.m. on March 22, Bethel Regional High School (BRHS) staff were alerted about a student who had brought a weapon to the school.

By 8:39 a.m. that weapon was in the possession of school staff. The Bethel Police Department was contacted and responded immediately. KYUK Spoke with Bethel Police Lieutenant Christopher Wigner.

“That staff member told me that at this time, that they did have the handgun and it was locked up in a separate room, and they had the student in a different room," Wigner reported.

The high school student was 15 and placed under arrest for misconduct involving a weapon in the fourth degree.

“The juvenile admitted to having the handgun and stated that he did not know why he brought it to school, it was just something stupid. According to the staff member, after receiving information from another student there that this juvenile had a handgun, they found him in the front boardwalk entrance at the school where [the staff member] made contact with [the juvenile] and questioned him about the handgun. [The juvenile] denied it, but after checking him with a metal detector, the handgun was located in the front genital area of the pants pocket in a holster. In front of his pants,” Wigner said.

The high school student was detained and transported to Bethel Youth Facility.

“There was no reports of him brandishing or making any threats or anything to anybody. And due to the quick action of the staff members at BRHS there was no incident,” said Wigner.

Bethel Police Department commended the school staff for their quick action. Within nine minutes the weapon was in their hands. Now the juvenile student will face his day in court.

“Right now our case is being turned over to the district attorney's office and the Bethel Youth Facility for prosecution,” Wigner said.

LKSD provided a follow up on March 22. They wanted to remind community members that "Student and staff safety on campus is the top priority of BRHS and District Administration. We all play an important role in keeping one another safe. This was evidenced yesterday by the student who took responsibility and alerted BRHS staff to a weapon on campus, and by the immediate action BRHS staff took in response to the report. Thank you to those who worked quickly for everyone’s safety."

LKSD also noted that as a result of the incident, Bethel Police Department will provide an increased officer presence at the school in addition to the School Resource Officer. Moving forward, during the school day there will be one point of entry for BRHS: the main doors located outside of the front office.

LKSD policy prohibits weapons in school buildings, on school grounds, in district-provided transportation, or at any school-related or school-sponsored activity away from school. The district encourages parents to talk with their children about school safety and about the importance of speaking up immediately if they hear or see something that raises concern.

Francisco Martínezcuello was the KYUK News Reporting Fellow from November 2022 through January 2024. He is a graduate of UC Berkeley School of Journalism. He is also a veteran of the United States Marine Corps.
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