Gilmerton Primary school pupils hit by airgun pellets

Picture: TSPL
Picture: TSPL
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A SCHOOL playground had to be evacuated after a teenager fired on pupils with a pellet gun, injuring up to ten children.

The incident happened during the lunch break at Gilmerton Primary School in Edinburgh on Thursday.

The pellets are believed to have been fired from the window of a residential property overlooking the playground, the headteacher said yesterday.

Police were called and subsequently arrested a 16-year-old who was charged with reckless conduct. A report has been sent to the procurator-fiscal.

The weapon used is known as a BB gun – it fires plastic ball “bearings”, rather than the metal pellets fired by an airgun.

Richard Napier, headteacher at the school, which has about 370 pupils, said staff had been shocked at the fact the pellets had come from a nearby property. “It appears to have been someone in their own home who fired into the playground”, he said.

“You’re just gobsmacked as to why someone would do something so ridiculous”.

Describing the incident, he said: “At around 1pm, I was doing kitchen duty in the main building when one of our learning assistants came in and said some of the children had been hit by white pellets.

“I went straight outside and ascertained that it must have come from one of the houses facing the playground, given the angle at which they’d been hit.

“We blocked the playground off at either end and kept the children safe. The police arrived very quickly and talked to the five children who had been hit. It came to light there had been a witnesses who knew where these shots came from.

“It eventually came to light that there were around ten children who had been hit. Some were fine and others had some bruising.”

He added: “Parents were angry and worried, which is understandable, but we have been able to give information directly and hopefully calm things down.”

Police Scotland said the suspect had been arrested shortly after the incident. Chief Inspector Mark Patterson: “We recognise the alarm that has been caused within the community as a result of this incident, for which an individual was quickly arrested and charged.

“There is nothing to indicate that there is any further risk to the public. Nonetheless we have deployed additional patrols in the community today in order to provide reassurance to pupils, parents and staff.”

Ian Murray MP, who represents the area, said: “When I first heard, I was utterly shocked that anybody would put the safety of young children at a primary school in danger using one of these weapons.

“I hope the criminal justice system will make an example of this individual, and that they themselves realise the gravity of firing a weapon into a playground of children.”

The Scottish Government said in December that it would bring in new legislation to ensure airgun owners would need a licence. However, BB guns, paintball guns and airsoft weapons would not be included. The government said at the time that these were considered “unlikely to prove lethal or pose any significant threat”.