A former teacher turned himself in to the Howard County Criminal Justice Center after a loaded handgun was found inside his old classroom.
Christopher Johnson worked at the Kokomo Area Career Center for five years. He resigned May 2012. The school system said there weren’t any issues. Johnson was a criminal justice teacher at the school.
Then 10 months later, on March 8, a student found a handgun in Johnson’s former classroom. The auto tech class had finished a test and students were doing an experiment.
“One of the students was holding up a tape measure and bumped the ceiling (and) saw there was something there,” David Barnes said.
Barnes is the director of communications for the school system. He called the discovery a “pure act of irresponsibility.”
“There was a point where we want to know what happened, you know. How did the weapon end up in our ceiling?” Barnes asked.
Barnes said officers immediately searched the career center to make sure it was safe.
According to court documents, Johnson’s ex-wife had bought the gun. He told officers he thought his ex-wife had the gun. He said he had not seen it in years.
The court document read in part, “he then said that if he had taken the gun to school, he did it unintentionally. Mr. Johnson said he did not remember putting the gun in the ceiling.”
Kokomo Major Brian Seldon said, “we interviewed Mr. Johnson and (he was) kinda vague on how the weapon entered into the classroom. But, he admitted that it would be logical for him to place the weapon in the ceiling to keep it away from students.”
Court documents stated Johnson was issued a Lifetime Handgun Permit on Nov. 15, 2007. Johnson had the gun on school property sometime between Aug. 2007 through Jan. 2013, officials said. While Johnson’s last day teaching was in May 2012, his resignation was effective Jan. 2013.
“The only thing I’ll say is we have a system that says that we’re innocent until proven guilty. I believe in that system and all I would ask is that the media and the public believe in that system too,” Johnson told Fox59.
When he was asked about the gun he responded with, “like I said innocent until proven guilty and we’ll just leave it at that.”
Johnson was charged with possessing a firearm on school property, which is a felony. He was also charged with criminal recklessness, which is a misdemeanor.
Barnes said teachers will be given professional development in order to make sure they understand the laws.
“But very honestly, we want to know what happened. How could this happen and -for us- it comes back (to what the) superintendent said. (He said it) is a sad situation when an irresponsible act by one individual sheds a light on a corporation we feel is doing a very good job,” Barnes said.