Texas police in 911 call tell student, ‘Put the gun down!’
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In a 911 recording released by police Thursday, south Texas officers can be heard confronting an eighth-grader who they believed was brandishing a real gun at a middle school in the border town of Brownsville.
An assistant principal at Cummings Middle School made the 911 call early Wednesday, and as officers arrive, she can be heard saying the teen was drawing a weapon, according to the Brownsville Herald, which obtained the recording.
‘Be careful not to charge through the front door, he’s right there,’ she says. ‘Don’t walk in --there’s a kid with a gun!’
She later says, ‘He’s drawing the gun!’
Someone else yells that the student says he’s willing to die, so be careful. An administrator shouts, ‘Lock the door!’
Throughout the six-minute call, police can be heard yelling, ‘Put the gun down! Put it on the floor!’
At one point, the administrator says, ‘Oh, gosh, there’s shooting going on...’
A moment later, police can be heard yelling that the student is running down the hall.
Police said that when 15-year-old Jaime Gonzalez refused to drop the weapon, officers shot him three times, killing him -- only to discover that he was armed with a pellet gun. No one else was injured.
Interim Brownsville Police Chief Orlando Rodriguez told the Brownsville Herald that, in the wake of the shooting, the department had received death threats.
Gonzalez’s parents have questioned why Brownsville officers thought they had to shoot the boy.
‘Why was so much excess force used on a minor?’ Jaime Gonzalez Sr. said, according to the Associated Press. ‘Three shots. Why not one that would bring him down?’
Gonzalez told CBS that he did not know where his son got the gun or why he brought it to school.
Noralva Gonzalez displayed a photo to reporters of her son in his drum major uniform standing with his band instructors. Then she showed three photos she said she took of bullet wounds in her son’s body, including one in the back of his head.
‘What happened was an injustice,’ she told the Associated Press. ‘I know that my son wasn’t perfect, but he was a great kid.’
Rodriguez told the Brownsville Herald that the teen ‘had plenty of opportunities to lower the gun and listen to the officers’ orders’ and that police did what they could to protect themselves and other students.
Shortly before the shooting, Gonzalez had walked into a classroom and punched another boy in the nose, Rodriguez told the Herald. It was not clear why, he said.
Police also did not know why Gonzalez pulled out the pellet gun, but Rodriguez told the Herald he thought it may have been ‘a way to bring attention to himself.’
Police declined to say what the boy said before he was shot.
-- Molly Hennessy-Fiske in Houston