The scene was tense Wednesday, 3 March, when Mason Jammer, a student at Jefferson Elementary in Ionia, Michigan held his kindergarten class hostage by fashioning his finger into the shape of a gun. Ionia is far distant suburb east of the thriving metropolis of Grand Rapids.
During the siege, panicked teachers gathered outside the classroom expressed concerns that the finger might go off. “This just wasn’t funny,” said the Jefferson principal. “[This] made other students uncomfortable.”
Jammer strutted around the room with his right forefinger held straight out. His right thumb was held erect, though it occasionally sagged when Jammer’s attention was diverted by Sally Kipper, 6, trying to climb into the fish tank.
The situation was diffused by the classroom teacher, who talked Jammer down from his frenzy. “I offered him chocolate milk,” said the 54 year-old homeroom teacher. “He dropped the gun, and immediately the door burst open. I think it was at that point that I fainted.”
Coming through the door was the principal and the janitor, who had armed himself with the broken handle of a shovel. He held it pointy side forward, but did not have to use it because little Mason offered no resistance as he was taken into custody.
This wasn’t the first time Jammer has seen trouble with the law. At one January recess, he was seen making the gun sign and was heard to make the “Pshew!” sound at some birds passing overhead. Witnesses report Jammer’s thumb cocking back and forth.
Luckily, no birds were harmed, but Jammer was still given a warming.
A file on Jammer was also opened with the Michigan Department of National Resources. Jammer did not have a valid hunting license on him when he attempted to shoot the birds.
The officials at Jefferson decided not to take any more chances. They are quoted as having said that they “had been too lenient” with Jammer in the past. Jammer was suspended for two days for the latest incident. He may also undergo counseling so that he understands just what are and what are not valid targets.
The Grand Rapids Press has more details of this harrowing tale.
The frequency of these attacks has risen dramatically over the past two years. Some educators are speculating that a wave of violence is about to overtake Elementary schools if something isn’t done immediately.
For example, last November, Zachery DeRidder, 6, in Ville Platte, Louisiana was heard to make the “Dut dut dut dut dut” sound commonly associated with automatic assault weapons. No witness could identify DeRidder simultaneously making the shape of a machine gun with his two arms, so the matter never found its way into the courts. A union representing teachers did use this incident to demand higher wages, however.
In that same month, Jessica Hanford, 5, in Bakersfield, California allegedly repeatedly threw a kickball against the wall of Lincoln Elementary. As the ball hit, Hanford made the “Brak-sssh!” sound while throwing her arms into the air.
Dr Wilmer Frankford, a Harvard-trained psychologist said this clearly indicated violent intent. Hanford has been under observation since the incident, and will remain so until her trials begins, most likely sometime in June.
Educators have been vigilant in the policing of their classrooms, but there are costs for this increased surveillance. In February of this year, Jason Marshfield, 6, of Eau Claire, Wisconsin was tackled by the school’s gym teacher after what officials called “Unusual explosive sounds” were heard emanating from the boys lavatory.
It was later discovered that Marshfield was teaching his “best friend” Kyle Mellen, 6, “how to make fart sounds with his underarm.”
The FBI also maintains a growing file of papers confiscated from schools all over the country. On these papers—all produced by the hands of children—are a variety of war-like images.
Everything from Sopwith Camels to F-15s to UFOs are drawn shooting down other planes, attacking tanks, or dropping bombs on the heads of the unsuspecting innocents. Many of the images have sound effects written in.
Agent Fred Bellaire, of New York, said, “I mean, whoever heard of an F-15 dropping bombs? It’s a fighter and can’t carry bombs. Something suspicious is going on with these kids. But I want to assure you that the FBI is right on it.”
The principal of Jefferson Elementary best summed up the situation when he said, “If we don’t teach these kids early that guns are wrong, then they might grow up believing otherwise.”