Two days after a Wilson student brought a gun into school, questions and apprehensions surrounding the incident persist. At around 1:15 p.m. on Tuesday, December 1, a gun was removed from a student’s backpack in a math classroom on the fourth floor. A video showing the gun was posted to Snapchat, but later deleted. Many details from the incident are still unclear, but according to the District of Columbia Police Department incident report, “a student advised a teacher, who then notified W-3 and W-4 [school officials] that [a student] displayed a handgun and then entered a classroom.”
Helene Gusman, a junior who was in the math class at the time of the incident, told her own account of the incident: “[The teacher] stepped out with a student because a student came to the door to tell him something,” says Gusman. The teacher then returned to the class and continued to teach. Then, “the student asked to go to the bathroom, but [the teacher] wouldn’t let the [student] go until a security guard came to the door.”
After the student left the classroom with security, the teacher did not allow other students to leave the classroom. “Then a couple other students got pulled out,” by security guards and administrators. Principal Kimberly Martin then entered the class and took out the students’ bags. Gusman was unaware of what was happening at the time of the incident; she eventually found out the details through the Snapchat video posted and from other students.
The incident took a toll on Gusman’s emotional state. “I am shaken, mostly by the fact that while I was leaning back to talk to someone, there was a weapon only a foot away from me,” Gusman wrote in a text.
Other students, like Gusman, are still on edge. On Wednesday at lunch, a day after the incident, there was a popping sound in the cafeteria. It sounded like a chip bag popping from a student’s lunch, a normal occurrence at lunchtime, but yesterday this pop received much more attention. Students all around the atrium looked to see what was happening with startled expressions. Administrators went to the site of the bag popping to check out what was happening. On any other day this event would have been ignored, but with the image of a gun in Wilson still fresh in everyone’s mind, it was a viable cause for concern.
The Wilson administration acknowledges the students’ frayed nerves. Martin sent an email to staff Wednesday morning with advice on how to deal with the situation: “If students are feeling frightened, emotional or seem to have an extraordinary response to this situation, please excuse them immediately to speak to a counselor.” Martin also attended the math class where the incident occurred today to answer questions and offer support to the students.
Martin hopes to quell any concerns among students, but she also acknowledges that they are not the only group affected by the incident. In the email to the staff, she wrote, “As we all react to stress in different ways, please know that I am also here to listen to your concerns.”
PHOTO BY HELEN MALHOTRA