RISING STAR, Texas (KTAB/KRBC) — Roughly a month after a Texas third-grade student found a gun belonging to a superintendent in a school bathroom, parents expressed their concerns that they weren’t notified sooner by school officials.
In January, the Rising Star Elementary student found the gun and immediately notified a teacher without touching the weapon, superintendent Robby Stuteville told News 2’s sister station, KTAB. The gun belonged to Stuteville, who said he and the school’s principal open carry on campus.
Stuteville explained that he took off the gun and placed it in a stall while using the restroom. The firearm remained in the bathroom unattended for about 15 minutes before it was found.
“There was never a danger other than the obvious,” Stuteville claimed last week. He then went on to say he was “proud” of the student and commended their behavior after finding the firearm. Speaking with KTAB on Thursday, Stuteville said he was no longer bringing his weapon to school.
Local law enforcement told News 2’s sister station they weren’t made aware of the incident until recently, despite the incident happening last month. Rising Star Police Chief Don Braly confirmed there is an active investigation that began Wednesday.
“When that investigation is concluded the information and the facts, not rumors, will be turned over to the district attorney’s office,” Braly said.
Some parents say they were also left in the dark about the incident.
Nearly 30 parents showed up to an emergency meeting Thursday night. Their general consensus was that they did not feel Stuteville was acting “maliciously,” as one parent said, but that they were not happy being kept in the dark for so long.
“Why, we as parents, had to find out about it through the news…It only makes the school seem like they have something to hide,” one parent stated.
This is an excerpt from Rising Star ISD Emergency Operations Plan:
According to the Rising Star ISD Emergency Operations Plan, firearms are considered an emergency response situation. Response protocol requiring prompt notification of parents and law enforcement to be carried out by the Superintendent or Business manager.
Other parents say they felt the issue was being over-emphasized, even addressing their crowd of fellow parents to reprimand.
“How many of your kids have access to guns in your own home? A bunch of you, including mine. I think it’s a mistake and I think that you pointing fingers at him for doing something like this is wrong,” a parent said to the crowd.
KTAB spoke with Giovanni Mata, a gun owner and the father of a third-grader involved in the incident, on Friday. According to Mata, a teacher sent his son to check on the gun after another student reported it.
“So the teacher asked another kid, my son… ‘Can you go see if it’s a real gun?’ Why would you send a kid? Why not send someone else?” Mata, who recently moved to the area from Uvalde, said.
“Be put in my shoes. Three minutes for that guy to kill all those people in just 3 minutes,” Mata explained, reflecting on last year’s deadly shooting at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde. “And [this] gun was left unattended for 15 minutes. At one point I just wanted to say hey, this wasn’t your kid in here. If this was your kid in that situation, I’m sure you would act completely different. You can’t say that was a mistake to leave a gun there. You can’t mistake a life.”