SHELBY COUNTY, Tenn. — Another letter was sent home to Southwind Middle School parents Tuesday after a student was arrested following a bizarre chain of events that began after the 14-year-old boy bolted from the principal's office and was found a short while later hiding in a shed with a gun.
The boy was arrested after authorities initially believed he fired a gun at his father during a chase by deputies through the neighborhood.
The drama unfolded shortly after the boy showed up at the southeast Shelby County (Tenn.) school around 8 a.m. Earlier police accounts that the child was suspended from school were wrong, said county schools spokesman Mike Tebbe.
School officials alerted sheriff's deputies that the boy had come to class Tuesday because the father had told them his son ran away over the weekend and had stolen his gun, jewelry and some cash. The boy was sent to the school office where he was searched and briefly detained by the school resource officer who did not find a gun, Tebbe said.
But before his father and other authorities arrived, the boy fled the school prompting a lockdown of the Southwind elementary, middle and high schools.
With the whereabouts of the gun still unknown at the time, deputies – including members of the sheriff's department undercover SWAT team who were working in the area because of the uptick in burglaries there – began a pursuit.
Initial reports said that during the chase, the boy turned and fired a shot "in the general direction of his father."
Later, however, the father said that perhaps the son hadn't fired a shot after all. "He said maybe he threw a brick or something," said sheriff's department spokesman Steve Shular.
Authorities found an unloaded gun, with all the bullets accounted for, when they captured the boy in a backyard shed at 7505 Kylan, a few doors from his home.
Shular said deputies are still investigating the incident, which includes a number of inconsistencies.
Authorities at first said that the father had reported his son as a runaway over the weekend.
But later, officials said that the father said that the child did not run away, but had been asked to leave the home because of disciplinary problems.
By late afternoon, a third version of the father's account said that the boy simply left the home and was not ordered to leave.
Shular said the case has been referred to the Department of Children's Services. Deputies are concerned that although the boy left the home Sunday, he was never reported missing or as a runaway. Instead, Shular said the father reported the burglary of his things.
Interviewed by authorities later Tuesday, Shular said the father said he knew the boy was living down the street in the shed and felt he was safe.
Meanwhile, the boy has been charged with possession of a handgun by a juvenile, evading arrest, aggravated assault against the father, two counts of assault for threatening deputies, theft of property over $1,000 and vandalism to his house.
The incident that started at Southwind Middle Tuesday is the latest in a string of disciplinary infractions at the school. More than a half-dozen students have been arrested at the school for assault and making threats over the last three weeks.