Gilmerton BB gun shooting: Parents tell of terror

The shots are said to have been fired from 'the upstairs window of a house overlooking the playground. Picture: Jon Savage

The shots are said to have been fired from 'the upstairs window of a house overlooking the playground. Picture: Jon Savage

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PARENTS have spoken of their horror after children as young as six were shot as a pellet gun was fired at a school 
playground.

The incident happened at Gilmerton Primary as children from P3 and P4 played at lunchtime on Thursday. Up to ten children were hit with BB pellets and suffered bruising as a result.

It is understood the shots were fired from the upstairs window of a nearby two-storey semi-detached house which overlooks the playground. Teachers immediately closed off the area and police raced to the scene.

Several parents were made aware of the incident when their children returned home on Thursday, although others found out the following 
morning.

One pupil in the playground at the time of the incident said: “We were playing on the grass when someone started shooting at us. The teachers then told us to get away from the area. It was really scary.”

The girl’s aunt, who collected her from school on Friday, said: “One of the kids could have been blinded or even worse. It’s incredible to think that someone would do this.”

Another parent of a 12-year-old pupil said: “My daughter came home and said that a man had been shooting in the playground that day. I was stunned and didn’t believe her at first.”

Following a round of house- to-house calls a 16-year-old male was arrested and charged with reckless conduct.

A spokesman for Police Scotland confirmed: “A 16-year-old male has been arrested and charged with reckless conduct following an alleged discharge of a pellet gun at Gilmerton Primary School on Thursday, May 30. A report will now be sent to the Procurator Fiscal.”

Education bosses increased the number of school staff members on duty in the playground after the incident.

A council spokesman said: “As soon as staff became aware of the incident the affected area of the playground was immediately cleared and police were contacted. A number of children suffered bruising but after discussions with the police we are now satisfied that there is no further risk to pupils.”

Chief Inspector Mark Patterson from Police Scotland moved to ease the fears of parents, saying extra patrols had been deployed in the area.

A consultation into air weapons ordered by Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill was concluded last month and its findings are due to be reported at the end of July. The campaign to tighten air gun 
controls gathered momentum after the death of toddler Andrew Morton, who was shot in the head by a drug addict in Glasgow in 2005.

A spokesman for Wonderland Toys on Lothian Road, which stocks air rifles and BB guns, said: “The problem lies with being able to buy BB guns in corner shops without any ID. Anybody can just walk right in and buy one. These guns can do a lot of damage and could easily blind someone.”

david.oleary@edinburghnews.com

The rules and regulations

THE law makes no distinction between air rifles and more powerful guns for which you need a licence – they are all classed as firearms.

It is an offence to sell or make a gift of an air weapon to a person under 17 years of age.

It is also an offence for anyone under 17 to carry an air weapon unless:

• They are over 14 and on private land and have permission from the occupier.

• They are under the supervision of a person aged 21 or more.

• They are shooting as a member of an approved club.

• They are at a shooting gallery for miniature rifles.

Failure to abide by these laws could result in penalties ranging from heavy fines right up to life imprisonment.