GALLOWAY TOWNSHIP — An Atlantic City man is wanted by police after a 7-year-old student found a loaded handgun in their backpack Thursday at Atlantic Community Charter School, police said Tuesday.
About 3:05 p.m. Thursday, a first-grader discovered a loaded Taurus 9mm handgun in their backpack and told school staff, police said. Police were notified, and the New Jersey Division of Child Protection and Permanency responded as well.
Principal Edmund Cetrullo Jr. could not immediately be reached for comment.
An investigation showed the gun was placed in the backpack by a relative, Lamar Keith Williamson, 33, who was staying with the student's family in Atlantic City. The student then unknowingly carried it to school.
A warrant was issued for Williamson, whose "whereabouts are unknown," police said. Williamson is charged with endangering the welfare of children, unlawful possession of a weapon and possession of a weapon by a convicted felon. Police describe him as bald, with brown eyes, standing 6 feet 3 inches, and weighing 200 pounds.
Maria Ortiz-Dabney, a mother of twin first-graders at the school, said parents received no notification of the incident from the school last week.
"The principal didn't tell anyone. No robocalls, nothing," Ortiz-Dabney said. "We deserve to know what happened that day, and that day of the incident."
One of her twins was on a field trip last Thursday, but the other was in class, she said.
"This is not cool," she said. "You don't play with someone's child's safety like that. ... What if another kid went into the wrong cubby hole and pulled it out?"
Principal Edmund Cetrullo sent a letter home to parents Tuesday afternoon regarding the incident.
"Unfortunately, this situation serves to illustrate the challenging conditions that many children face today," the letter reads. "When situations such as the one last week occur, our staff works together to ensure the proper supports are put in place."