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No charges after gun goes off in Tenn. school

Published: Friday, Aug. 23, 2013 8:15 p.m. CDT

MEMPHIS, Tenn. – No charges have been filed against a Tennessee kindergartner or his mother after a gun discharged inside the child's backpack in a school cafeteria, but the shooting has led to metal-detecting wands being provided to the district's elementary schools, officials said Friday.

Memphis police said the 5-year-old and his mother were released from custody late Thursday, hours after the gun went off as students were waiting for the opening bell in the Westside Elementary School cafeteria.

No one was hurt, and school security officers quickly took control of the backpack. Officials have not released details, such as how the child was holding the backpack or in which direction the bullet went.

Investigators determined the child obtained the gun from a closet at home and placed it in the backpack, police spokeswoman Karen Rudolph said Friday. The information was presented to the district attorney general's office, which decided not to file charges at this time, she said.

Rudolph said later Friday that the district attorney's office is still investigating the matter.

Police are not releasing the identity of the child and mother. The child could be suspended or expelled under Shelby County Schools policy.

During a Friday news conference, Interim Superintendent Dorsey Hopson said elementary schools will now be provided hand-held, metal detecting wands.

Wands were distributed to some schools Friday, and all elementary schools are expected to have them next week, he said.

Metal detectors are used in high schools.

"It's a sad day when we have a 5-year-old bringing a gun to school," Hopson said.

The shooting is the first major security situation since the merger of Memphis City Schools and the Shelby County school district went into effect this summer. The merger created Shelby County Schools, a massive school system with about 150,000 students.

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