An Elizabethtown man is charged with reckless endangerment for leaving his loaded gun in his son’s book bag, which the boy took to Bear Creek School earlier this month.
Northwest Regional police charged Jay Wesley Ellison, 28, of King Court, with the misdemeanor count on Thursday.
Ellison told police he placed the handgun in his son’s book bag for temporary storage, but forgot to remove the firearm when he returned home. The 9-year-old boy took the book bag to school on Sept. 14.
At least one student was shown the gun, which was loaded with a full magazine, while it was in the book bag. Police do not believe the gun was removed from the bag or there were any threats to use the gun.
Reckless endangerment is defined as reckless conduct which places or may place another person in danger of death or serious bodily injury. There is no indication Jay Ellison had any criminal intent, whatsoever.
“Mr. Ellison did not have any criminal intent and he is not charged with any intentional crime,” Lancaster County District Attorney Craig Stedman said on Wednesday. “The essence of the charge is instead a reckless failure to exercise responsible gun ownership. Placing a loaded gun in a 9-year-old’s school bag and leaving it there for him to take to school certainly placed a number of children and others at risk and we are fortunate that no one was injured or worse.
“We appreciate the cooperation we received from the school and everyone involved, including Mr. Ellison.”
The police investigation started on the evening of Sept. 14 when police were contacted by a parent in the district. The parent reported that their child heard about another student having a gun at school that day.
Police located a second student, who reportedly was shown the weapon, inside the book bag, while in a school hallway. That student said the student with the gun told him his father put the gun in the bag and forgot to take it out.
Police contacted school officials and conducted a search of the school that night.
Police interviewed Ellison about his son having the weapon at school. Ellison told police he had the gun in a pickup truck, which he parked at his parents’ home because his driveway was being resealed. Rather than leave the gun in the truck, he placed it in the book bag and walked home with it, he told police.
Ellison told police he forgot to remove the gun when he got home.
The gun was legally owned.
Northwest Regional police Officer Adam Shope filed the charge, with approval from Assistant District Attorney Trista Boyd.
Ellison is presumed innocent.
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