Boy, 7, grazed by bullet after gun in backpack discharges in Disney Magnet School classroom

The boy was transported to Lurie’s Children’s Hospital in good condition, according to Chicago Fire Department spokesman Larry Merritt.

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Walt Disney Magnet School

A 7-year-old was wounded after a gun in another student’s backpack accidentally went off in a Walt Disney Magnet School classroom, May 17, 2022.

Anthony Vázquez/Sun-Times

After a gun in a student’s backpack went off in a North Side school classroom Tuesday, wounding a 7-year-old, many parents wondered aloud how it happened.

As one mom told reporters that afternoon outside Disney Magnet School, “How did a kid get a gun in his backpack and come to school like it’s a normal day?”

That was a question on a lot of parents' minds after police and school officials confirmed a student brought the weapon to school in the 4100 block of North Marine Drive earlier in the day.

Police said shortly before 10 a.m., while the gun was in the student’s backpack in a classroom, the gun was accidentally discharged. The bullet struck the ground, ricochetted and grazed the abdomen of a classmate.

The wounded boy was taken to Lurie’s Children’s Hospital in good condition, Chicago Fire Department spokesman Larry Merritt said.

Staff quickly secured the gun and contacted authorities, Disney Principal Paul Riskus told parents.

“We are working closely with the CPS Office of Safety and Security to make a safety plan moving forward,” Riskus wrote in an email. “Please know that we are taking this situation extremely seriously, and CPD is investigating.”

More than 1,400 kids attend the school, and the statement acknowledged that “many students are aware of this incident. If your child voices any fears or worries, or you notice a change in their behavior, please let us know and we can provide them with extra support.”

Parents said they were frantic after learning about the incident.

“We are freaking out,” Victor Garcia, whose son attends pre-school at Disney, told ABC7. There are “gun shootings going [on] all over the country. This is crazy.”

Parent Safana Almakram was downtown when she received the email from the principal, which left her in a panic.

She raced to the school, where other parents — some in tears —had also come to fetch their children.

“We were so scared,” Almakram said.

She was relieved to find that her children, 7 and 12, weren’t hurt.

“I don’tknow if I’m sending them tomorrow,” she said. “Definitely, I’m waiting for something from [the school] to explain more.”

Parents wait in line to pick up their children at Walt Disney Magnet School at 4100 N Marine Dr in Buena Park, Tuesday May 17, 2022.

Parents wait in line to pick up their children at Walt Disney Magnet School at 4100 N Marine Dr in Buena Park, Tuesday May 17, 2022.

Anthony Vázquez/Sun-Times

Paulette Savage, who has a seventh-grader at Disney, was also upset that the principal’s email — which indicated “no one was seriously injured” — didn’t spell out that a student was actually wounded. She found that out from the media.

“I just expect more transparency,” said Savage, who teaches at another CPS school. “We should never find out from the news.”

CPS didn’t respond to a request for comment about the wording of the email, which it earlier forwarded when asked about the incident.

Parent Anna Sedelmaier said the school has a “good vibe” but she said she was also concerned about the instructors, who are “great” and “loving.”

“I’m more worried about the teachers right now because I think [the kids] are fine, she said. “How they must be viewing this and how traumatic it is for the people who understand the weight of this.”

Like other parents, Savage isn’t sure if she’s sending her daughter back to Disney on Wednesday.

“It depends on how she feels,” she said.

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