INMAN, SC (WSPA) – A daycare staff member found a gun in a child’s lunch sack at a Spartanburg County church daycare Wednesday.
Parents who send their children to Lake Bowen Baptist Church Child Development Center in Inman were notified by a letter that was sent home Wednesday. Parents who had already picked up their child before the gun was found were notified in person on Thursday.
The pastor at Lake Bowen Baptist says the most important thing is that nobody got hurt. He says after the gun was confiscated by staff the gun was discovered to be loaded.
Pastor Brad Atkins credits the childcare staff with staying calm acting fast and taking “common sense” steps to keep everyone safe
Atkins says, “I’ve been in the ministry for 20 plus years and I’ve never heard of something like this happening. With recent events and what’s been going on in our world it’s one of those things where this is a parent’s worst nightmare.”
He tells 7 News that a member of his daycare staff found the gun in the pocket of the child’s lunch bag.
Atkins say, “The child went to lunch and it was not discovered. It was discovered at around 2:30 in the afternoon during snack time at which time the teacher immediately took control of the situation and then the protocols went into place.”
Atkins considers them protocols that aren’t necessarily covered in the Department of Social Services manual every child care facility in South Carolina follows.
“It didn’t really dictate anything in the event a gun gets brought in by a child.”
He credits his staff for notifying the daycare director and other church staff, including himself.
Once the gun was secured in his office, he called the parents of the child to see how the gun ended up in the bag.
He says they told him, “the lunch bag had an outside pouch. When the parent left they put it in that pouch to get everything out to the vehicle and had simply forgotten to take it out.”
Atkins says one protocol that is in place is notifying all the parents of the situation.
The daycare drafted a letter that went home with parents Wednesday and Thursday.
Pastor Atkins says the family of the child who had the gun in the bag had recently experienced a crime and the mother was carrying her gun for protection and in the rush out the door in the morning she mistakenly placed the gun in her child’s bag.
Marilyn Matheus with the Department of Social Services says the agency’s policy manual’s for childcare facilities statewide don’t address something as specific as a gun found in a toddler’s bag.
She says the most important thing is that nobody got hurt and all of the parents were notified by the daycare staff. Parental notification of any security situation is included in the DSS manual.