3 students face weapons charges after investigation at Cranston West

Police step up presence, but say ‘no ongoing threat’

The Cranston Herald ·

Police elevated their presence at Cranston High School West this week after three students were arrested on multiple weapons charges.

On Tuesday night, a judge remanded the three male juveniles – ages 14, 15, and 16 – to the Training School for Youth until their arraignment in Family Court, which had been scheduled for Wednesday morning.

In a statement issued late Tuesday, police said they began an investigation after School Resource Officer Derek DiMeo “received information that a juvenile was in possession of a handgun” during an after-hours athletic event on school grounds.

The investigation is said to have found one of the juveniles involved had taken two handguns and ammunition from a family member’s home and traded one of the weapons to another juvenile in exchange for a jacket.

After that transaction, police say the juvenile who obtained the weapon brought it to the athletic event, where he met two other students. Two of the students are said to have then gone into a wooded area off school grounds and taken turns firing the weapon before returning to the athletic event.

The weapons were seized at the residence of one of the students on Tuesday. Police additionally said Cranston West officials found one of the juveniles involved to be in possession of a stun gun, which was seized and turned over to the school resource officer.

Chief of Police Michael Winquist, through the department’s statement, said the students never entered a school building with the firearms. He further said there was “no evidence that the students intended to harm any other students or faculty members.”

“The safety of all students and faculty is of the highest priority and the expedient resolution to this incident is a tribute to the open communication within the school community and immediate response by investigators,” Winquist said.

“The administration at Cranston High School West considers the safety and well-being of all members of the school community to be paramount. Please rest assured that at no time during the school day was the safety of our students, faculty or staff compromised,” Cranston West Principal Thomas Barbieri said in a message to parents on Tuesday. “If at any time you have questions regarding school safety or emergency procedures, please feel free to contact school administration.”

Maj. Todd Patalano through the department’s statement indicated police “planned for an increase in police presence at Cranston West High School which will begin [Wednesday] morning and continue as a precautionary measure.” He added, however, that “there is no ongoing threat or additional information that should concern students, parents or faculty.”

“It will be business as usual at Cranston High School West,” he said.

The 15-year-old juvenile was charged with counts of sale, transfer, or delivery of firearms to minors; sale, transfer, or delivery of ammunition to minors; possession of ammunition by a minor; possession of a firearm by a minor; carrying a pistol without a permit or license; and possession of a stolen firearm.

The 14-year-old juvenile was charged with counts of possession of ammunition by a minor; possession of a firearm by a minor; carrying a pistol without a permit or license; firing in a compact area; and possession of firearms on school grounds.

The 16-year-old juvenile was charged with possession of ammunition by a minor; possession of a firearm by a minor; carrying a pistol without a permit or license; firing in a compact area; and possessing prohibited weapons other than firearms.

“Cranston Public Schools is grateful to the administrators at CHSW, SRO DiMeo and the members of the Cranston Police who worked together to thoroughly investigate this situation. I commend those who shared this information with our administrators, so we were able to act quickly. Student and staff safety is paramount to us at all times. We will continue to work collaboratively with the Cranston Police, in all matters involving the safety of our schools, students and staff,” Superintendent of Schools Jeannine Nota-Masse said through the statement.

“I am pleased with the response of the school administration and Cranston Police Department. The school resource officer working in close cooperation with school officials identified the students involved in this incident and acted swiftly to ensure the safety of all students and faculty. We will provide the necessary support to ensure that Cranston schools will continue to provide a safe and healthy environment for our children’s education,” Mayor Allan Fung said through the statement.

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