In another first, at least locally, during the new era of remote schooling, Riverside police on Aug. 28 cited a Riverside-Brookfield High School student for disorderly conduct after he allegedly displayed what appeared to be a rifle and made statements that some students and staff found alarming during a class being conducted via the teleconferencing app Zoom.
High school officials contacted police on Aug. 28 at 2:40 p.m. about the incident, saying the school had also received complaints from other students through the school’s online anti-bullying portal.
According to police, a 16-year-old North Riverside boy displayed the weapon during the online class and stated “gotta stay strapped all the time,” referring to being armed at all times.
During their investigation of the incident, police said they learned the gun was an Airsoft rifle that belonged to one of the boy’s parents, that they hadn’t given permission for him to take it and didn’t know he was displaying it during any online high school classes.
While the weapon was a replica rifle, it did look real, said police.
Riverside Police Chief Thomas Weitzel said that he was “confident” no one was ever in any danger, but that “the Riverside Police Department takes all online threats seriously.”
Weitzel also said the department writing a citation for a child’s behavior during an online class was a first for him.
“This is the first time in the history of our department that we’ve cited someone from an online Zoom classroom setting,” Weitzel said in a press release. “Seeing most educational institutions are doing some type of remote classroom instruction during the pandemic, it is essential parents talk to their children about what they display in view of the camera, and that it is not anything that would be perceived to be of a threatening nature.”