Guns flashed in Philly virtual classrooms raises many concerns

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Friday, September 4, 2020
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Day one of virtual learning led to two police investigations, after two students at different high schools allegedly brandished guns during virtual classes.

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- Day one of virtual learning led to two police investigations after two students at different high schools allegedly brandished guns during virtual classes.

In one video posted online, police say a West Philadelphia High School student was seen dancing with what appears to be an assault rifle in a Dobbins High School virtual class.

"We executed a search warrant at the child's house. He wasn't on location and we didn't recover any firearms," said Captain Frank Milillo with the Philadelphia Police Department.

Philadelphia police still don't know how the student hacked into another classroom in a different school. They want to talk with the juvenile and find the apparent firearm.

"We want to track him down and have a conversation with him," said Milillo. "And we want to make sure where that video was recorded and check that location."

Rob D'Ovidio, a professor of Criminology at Drexel University and specializes in digital crimes said, "You have to start saying to yourself, this is beyond just horsing around in the classroom. This is a serious serious infraction, that the school district needs to get out in front of."

D'Ovidio says the gun is a clear violation of the district's Acceptable Use Policy for school-issued laptops.

"This should be a wake-up call to school districts. If they haven't already done so, to remind parents, to remind students that this is a school provided resource," said D'Ovidio.

The school district released a statement to Action News that reads:

"Whether school is held in-person or digitally, the School District of Philadelphia takes very seriously any threatening or violence-related incidents occurring in our learning environments. Upon being made aware of this particular incident, we notified the Philadelphia Police Department (PPD) and this matter is now under investigation by PPD. We intend to hold all persons accountable in full accordance with the Code of Student Conduct and Philadelphia law."

Milillo says the student was not charged.

"We want to work with these students," added Milillo. "We don't want to give these students criminal records if not need be."

Police also investigated another similar incident involving a Bartram High School Student. An automatic rifle BB gun was confiscated.

No charges were filed in that case either, and police say they're working with the district to create a seminar to educate students that this behavior is not acceptable.