In a country where the right to bear arms is enshrined in the constitution, the anxiety surrounding gun-like toys has always seemed strange – especially when the toy gun is clearly a brightly-colored plastic toy that hardly resembles a real firearm.
And now, a Colorado middle schooler has been suspended from school for briefly holding a toy gun at his home, nowhere near his actual school, while logged into his virtual class.
Isaiah Elliott, 12, is a student at Grand Mountain K8, a grade school just south of Colorado Springs.
On Thursday, Aug. 27, the seventh grader was sitting at his computer attending his online art class when his teacher briefly saw a neon green and black handgun flash across the screen. The orange-tipped toy had the words “Zombie Hunter” printed on the side.
The teacher quickly notified a school administrator, who suspended the boy for five days and called the El Paso County Sheriff’s Office to conduct a welfare check on the child without so much as notifying his parents.
“It was really frightening and upsetting for me as a parent, especially as the parent of an African-American young man, especially given what’s going on in our country right now,” said the boy’s father, Curtis Elliott, in an interview with KDVR.
According to the sheriff’s report, the art teacher “said she assumed it was a toy gun but was not certain.” In recorded footage from the class held on Zoom, Isaiah can be seen flashing the toy across the screen “for maybe one or two seconds at the most.”
Isaiah is also traumatized after sheriff’s deputies told him that his behavior could have led to criminal charges, the parents say. The Elliotts now plan on transferring him to another school.
“It would’ve been a lot easier for me to understand if my son had made a threat,” said Isaiah’s mother, Danielle Elliott, who is furious over her son’s ordeal.
“For them to go as extreme as suspending him for five days, sending the police out, having the police threaten to press charges against him because they want to compare the virtual environment to the actual in-school environment is insane,” she explained.
“If her main concern was his safety, a two-minute phone call to me or my husband could easily have alleviated this whole situation to where I told them it was fake,” Danielle Elliott added.
The parents also weren’t allowed to view the video recording of the incident, which district officials refused to disclose following their requests.
A sheriff’s deputy, however, showed the boy’s father the footage that he had recorded with his body-worn camera. In the footage, Isaiah Elliott can be seen momentarily lifting the toy that was sitting at his right side and moving it to his left side, inadvertently flashing the toy in front of his camera.
He was clearly not brandishing the toy gun or even attempting to show it to his virtual classmates, Curtis Elliott said. The parents maintain that the response was entirely disproportionate to the supposed offense – especially when the school involved police in the matter.
“He was in tears when the cops came. He was just in tears. He was scared. We all were scared. I literally was scared for his life,” said Curtis Elliott. “The virtual setting is not the same as the school setting … He did not take the toy gun to school. He’s in the comfort of his own home. It’s a toy.”
The parents still shudder at the thought of law enforcement officers potentially overreacting to the possibility of a young Black boy wielding a firearm.
“I definitely feel they crossed the line,” said Danielle Elliott. “They were extreme with their punishment, especially sending the police out and traumatizing my son and my family.”
“Especially with the current events, with Tamir Rice, a 12-year-old boy getting killed over a toy gun, you know these things are very scary and they’re very real,” she told KOAA in a separate interview. “This is not the first time my son has faced racism or discrimination or anything like that.”
The school district is now being inundated on social media by critical comments over the matter. The district has denied its response was driven by racial discrimination but admits that it recorded the virtual class without parental consent.
“We follow all school board policies whether we are in-person learning or distance learning,” the district said in a statement. “We take the safety of all our students and staff very seriously. Safety is always our number one priority.”
Dolphin Swims Through Louisiana Neighborhood in Aftermath of Hurricane Ida
A Louisiana family was shocked to find a dolphin swimming through their neighborhood in the aftermath of Hurricane Ida.
Amanda Huling and her family were assessing the damage to their neighborhood in Slidell, Louisiana, when they noticed the dolphin swimming through the inundated suburban landscape.
In video shot by Huling, the marine mammal’s dorsal fin can be seen emerging from the water.
“The dolphin was still there as of last night but I am in contact with an organization who is going to be rescuing it within the next few days if it is still there,” Huling told FOX 35.
Ida slammed into the coast of Louisiana this past weekend. The Category 4 hurricane ravaged the power grid of the region, plunging residents of New Orleans and upwards of 1 million homes and businesses in Louisiana and Mississippi into the dark for an indefinite period of time.
Officials have warned that the damage has been so extensive that it could take weeks to repair the power grid, reports Associated Press.
Also in Slidell, a 71-year-old man was attacked by an alligator over the weekend while he was in his flooded shed. The man went missing and is assumed dead, reports WDSU.
Internet users began growing weary last year about the steady stream of stories belonging to a “nature is healing” genre, as people stayed indoors and stories emerged about animals taking back their environs be it in the sea or in our suburbs.
However, these latest events are the surreal realities of a world in which extreme weather events are fast becoming the new normal – disrupting our lives in sometimes predictable, and occasionally shocking and surreal, ways.
Mom in LA Suburbs Fights Off Mountain Lion With Bare Hands, Rescues 5-Year-Old Son
A mother in Southern California is being hailed as a hero after rescuing her five-year-old son from an attacking mountain lion.
The little boy was playing outside his home in Calabasas, a city lying west of Los Angeles in the Santa Monica Mountains, when the large cat pounced on him.
The 65-pound (30 kg) mountain lion dragged the boy about 45 yards across the front lawn before the mother acted fast, running out and striking the creature with her bare hands and forcing it to free her son.
“The true hero of this story is his mom because she absolutely saved her son’s life,” California Department of Fish and Wildlife spokesman Captain Patrick Foy told Associated Press on Saturday.
“She ran out of the house and started punching and striking the mountain lion with her bare hands and got him off her son,” Foy added.
The boy sustained significant injuries to his head, neck and upper torso, but is now in stable condition at a hospital in Los Angeles, according to authorities.
The mountain lion was later located and killed by an officer with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, who found the big cat crouching in the bushes with its “ears back and hissing” at the officer shortly after he arrived at the property.
“Due to its behavior and proximity to the attack, the warden believed it was likely the attacking lion and to protect public safety shot and killed it on sight,” the wildlife department noted in its statement.
The mountain lion attack is the first such attack on a human in Los Angeles County since 1995, according to Fish and Wildlife.
The Santa Monica Mountains is a biodiverse region teeming with wildlife such as large raptors, mountain lions, bears, coyote, deer, lizards, and snakes. However, their numbers have rapidly faded in recent years, causing local wildlife authorities to find new ways to manage the region’s endemic species.
Video Shows Taliban Taking Joyride in Captured US Blackhawk Helicopter
The rapid fall of Kabul to the Taliban has resulted in a number of surreal sights – from footage of the Islamist group’s fighters exercising at a presidential gym to clips of combatants having a great time on bumper cars at the local fun park.
However, a new video of Taliban members seemingly testing their skills in the cockpit of a commandeered UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter shows the chilling extent to which U.S. wares have fallen into the hands of a group it spent trillions of dollars, and exhaustive resources, to stamp out.
In the new video, shared on Twitter, the front-line utility helicopter can be seen taxiing on the ground at Kandahar Airport in southeastern Afghanistan, moving along the tarmac. It is unclear who exactly was sitting in the cockpit, and the Black Hawk cannot be seen taking off or flying.
It is unlikely that the Taliban have any combatants who are sufficiently trained to fly a UH-60 Black Hawk.
The helicopter, which carries a $6 million price tag, is just a small part of the massive haul that fell into the militant group’s hands after the country’s central government seemingly evaporated on Aug. 14 amid the withdrawal of U.S. and coalition troops.
Some 200,000 firearms, 20,000 Humvees and hundreds of aircraft financed by Washington for the now-defunct Afghan Army are believed to be in the possession of the Taliban.
The firearms include M24 sniper rifles, M18 assault weapons, anti-tank missiles, automatic grenade launchers, rocket-propelled grenades and mortars.
Taliban fighters in the elite Badri 313 Brigade have been seen in propaganda images showing off in uniforms and wielding weaponry meant for the special forces units of the Afghan Army.
The U.S. is known to have purchased 42,000 light tactical vehicles, 9,000 medium tactical vehicles and over 22,000 Humvees between 2003 and 2016.
The White House remains unclear on how much weaponry has fallen into Taliban hands, with National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan admitting last week that the U.S. lacks a “clear picture of just how much missing $83 billion of military inventory” the group has.