A high school biology teacher in Massachusetts is facing charges after police say he planted live ammo in a school stairwell to prove the school needed metal detectors.
On Thursday, 57-year-old Alfred Purcell III told fellow staffers at Southbridge High School that he had just found one live round of 9 mm ammunition in the rear stairwell, according to local station WCVB.
The school was then placed on lockdown. During that time, police and school staffers reviewed video footage from the stairwell that showed Purcell removing the ammo from his pocket, dropping it on the floor and quickly leaving the area, police told the station.
Video taken 10 minutes later shows Purcell taking a picture of the ammo and then using a school-issued portable radio to contact school administration and the school resource officer.
Purcell then returned to his class for the rest of a lockdown, which lasted about an hour, according to CBS Boston.
“There was no kids that were injured, nobody was seriously impacted by this other than we went into a lockdown for an hour and we had to investigate a teacher who was doing things he shouldn’t be doing,” said Southbridge Police Chief Shane Woodson, according to CBS Boston.
Purcell was arrested and charged with two counts of carrying a dangerous weapon on school grounds, two counts of possessing a firearm without an FID card, disturbing a public assembly, disorderly conduct and disturbing the peace.
Officers later found 102 live rounds of 20-gauge shotgun ammunition in the trunk of Purcell’s car, Woodson said, according to the Boston Globe.
Police said Purcell admitted he was concerned about school safety and felt more metal detectors were needed.
Purcell pleaded not guilty at his arraignment, and was ordered held on $500 bail, the Boston Globe reported. He also must stay 500 yards away from the school.
Purcell’s lawyer, Leah J. Metro, said her client denied any involvement with the bullet that was found.
Southbridge School Superintendent-Receiver Jeffrey Villar said he takes the allegations very seriously.
“To have someone who I’ve hired to ensure a safe environment for our children to do something like this is abhorrent and absolutely shocking,” Villar said at a news conference Thursday afternoon.
Purcell had been hired in August and passed a background check. However, Villar said classroom management was “an issue” and the district had already decided not to renew Purcell’s contract before Thursday’s incident.
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