Mo. couple charged after boy takes gun to school

Friday, February 9, 2007

MOSCOW MILLS, Mo. (AP) -- A second-grader is accused of taking a loaded handgun to school, but it's his mother and her husband who face charges.

Tina Powell, and her husband, David Himmel, were arrested Thursday on child endangerment charges after more than 80 firearms were allegedly found at their home in Moscow Mills, about 50 miles north of St. Louis. Police said some of the weapons were loaded, and ammunition was within reach.

The 8-year-old child took the .22-caliber handgun to William R. Cappel Elementary School Thursday, where he carried it in his backpack before showing it to a classmate near the end of the school day, authorities said.

A third child overheard the conversation and told a teacher. No one was hurt. The boy has been suspended.

"Our understanding is he brought it as a show-and-tell type item," said Lt. Rick Harrell of the Lincoln County Sheriff's Department. "He retrieved it from his parents' bedroom. It was laying on a shelf."

Authorities said the gun's safety was not on, and the gun could easily have fired.

Powell, 41, and Himmel, 43, were freed after posting $25,000 bond.

Sheriff Dan Torres and Lincoln County Schools Superintendent Terry Morrow praised the action taken by the teacher, and the student who recognized and reported the weapon.

Torres also warned families of the dangers of keeping weapons within reach of children.

"Children are naturally curious and do not fully understand the danger of guns," he said. "As a parent and gun owner myself, I understand my responsibility to safeguard my children."

The child was staying with relatives.

Torres said the couple told police they collected firearms, and he said the weapons appeared to be legally owned. Neither has a criminal record.

Torres did not believe the boy intended to hurt anyone.

"He understands that what he did was wrong, but I don't know if he understands the magnitude of what could have happened," he said.


Information from: St. Louis Post-Dispatch, www.stltoday.com.

Information from: Hannibal Courier-Post, www.hannibal.net.

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