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MHS students bring pocket knives to school, get suspended and arrested

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MHS students bring pocket knives to school, get suspended and arrested
Mitchell South Dakota 120 South Lawler 57301

Within one month, two 18-year-old students were suspended and arrested for bringing pocket knives to Mitchell High School.

Mitchell Superintendent Joe Graves said it is standard procedure to suspend a student who brings a knife to school. Most recently, the Mitchell Police Division responded to a weapons violation call Tuesday at the high school.

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“There was no apparent threat involving the situation,” Graves said. “They were just carrying a knife.”

Justo Lopez, 18, was charged with possession of a dangerous weapon in school, said Detective Lt. Don Everson of the Mitchell Police Division.

Everson said a police officer was interviewing Lopez on school grounds after receiving information that Lopez typically carried a pocket knife at school. The officer asked Lopez if he had a knife, and Lopez took one out from his own pocket. The officer arrested Lopez for the misdemeanor charge of possession of a dangerous weapon in school.

Earlier in January, another student was caught with a pocket knife at school. That student was also suspended, Graves said.

According to court records, Randal Bohn Jr., 18, was arrested Jan. 8 for the misdemeanor charge of possession of a dangerous weapon in school. The charge carries a maximum punishment of one year in jail and a $2,000 fine.

Students cannot carry weapons to school, including a pocket knife, according to school policy. Graves would not go into specifics, but said a student is typically suspended for 10 days for this type of offense. If the student were to bring a weapon to school again, it would result in a year of expulsion, he said.

“When I was a kid, we all carried pocket knives,” Graves said. “So things have changed. We try to deal with those on a case-by-case basis, examine the intention and size and fierceness of the knife.”

He said the district has had to suspend elementary school students for bringing pocket knives to school. Typically, an elementary student received a knife as a present and wanted to show their friends. Graves added it is considered more serious when a high school student brings a knife to school.

All students are informed they cannot bring any kind of weapon to school through orientation and it is also explained in the student handbook. However, students may have heard the instructions but not retained the knowledge, Graves said.

“It’s more that a kid doesn’t know he’s doing something wrong and is innocently carrying a present in his pocket to show his friends,” Graves said.

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