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Berwick High Student Arrested Following Gel Ball Gun Incident


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Shawn P. Francois Jr., 18 years old, of Apple St. Morgan City, was arrested on Thursday, February 10, 2022, at 2:11PM, on the following charge:

Disturbing the Peace by Alarming the Public

On February 10th, at 12:22PM, the Berwick High School notified the police department of a student in the campus’ parking lot that had what appeared to be an airsoft gun. Officers and detectives immediately responded. Through investigation, officers learned that an early release student, identified as Francois, was leaving school during the lunch/recess break. Prior to leaving, Francois pulled out a “Gel Ball Blaster” from his car and shot another student in the back. The on-duty teacher immediately recognized the item as not being a weapon and took action in the matter.

The student was not injured as the projectiles are small and made up of a water/gel based solution. The guardian of the juvenile declined prosecution for the battery that occurred. However, since there was an incident of this nature that occurred on school campus and prompted a law enforcement response, officers placed Francois under arrest for Disturbing the Peace by Alarming the Public. He was booked into the Berwick Jail and later released after posting a $201.00 cash bond.

Berwick Police Department released the following statement following the arrest.

”Chief David Leonard commends the faculty at the high school for their prompt action in this matter and wants to remind the public that the safety and security of the schools are paramount. Whether the item is an airsoft gun, a gel blaster type gun, or simply an item that is portrayed as being a gun; these actions will not be tolerated upon any school campus. Although these types of guns do not meet the federal definition of a “firearm,” some still discharge a projectile with such force that could cause injury to a person, thus causing that item to meet the criteria of a dangerous weapon. Any incident that is received regarding these types of objects will be thoroughly investigated by the Berwick Police Department and criminal charges will be filed when appropriate. Parents are urged to discuss with their children the importance of gun safety, which includes air-powered guns, and even check their school bags if necessary. Anyone who wishes to learn more about the Louisiana firearms’ laws are encouraged to research the following Louisiana Revised Statutes on the Louisiana State Legislature’s website, www.legis.la.gov: LRS 14:95.2; LRS 14:95.6, and LRS 40:1379.3.

 

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