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Atlantis Beach Baptist College: Police minister says firearms still 'too … – WAtoday

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Students and school staff were inside an Atlantis Beach Baptist College classroom allegedly shot at by a 15-year-old boy on Wednesday, Premier Mark McGowan has revealed.
Police allege the former student brought two rifles to the school in a black Nissan Pathfinder on Wednesday afternoon, sending terrified children and teachers into a frantic lockdown as gunshots rang out in the car park, with two bullets hitting a demountable classroom.
After a meeting with board members and the college’s principal on Thursday, McGowan confirmed staff and students were inside the building, and said it was a miracle that no one was killed.
“The bullets went close,” McGowan said.
“It’s a terrible, terrible thing, and it could have been so much worse.”
McGowan’s comments came as WA Police released bodycam footage of police arresting the boy dressed in black jeans and a black T-shirt after he allegedly fired three shots at the school from the vehicle.
In the footage, police also film the entry and exit holes of two bullets in the demountable classroom allegedly shot at by the 15-year-old.
A female officer can be heard telling WA Police’s incident control centre that the firearms were secured, and one male was in custody.
“There are three rounds that have been fired from the vehicle. The shell casings are around the vehicle,” she said.
McGowan congratulated the school and police for their quick responses during the incident.
He said Atlantis Beach, like all schools in the state, was prepared for the situation and conducted drills twice a year, but it was not something he wanted to see in WA.
“This was extraordinary stuff, the sort of thing you see occurring in the deep south of America that you don’t expect to occur in Western Australia, and it shouldn’t occur in Western Australia,” he said.
McGowan said the government would move as quickly as possible to reform gun laws in the state to prevent future incidents, including reducing the number of guns in the state and bolstering storage requirements.
He said while he wanted to avoid commenting directly on the incident, gun owners needed to ensure their weapons were stored safely and correctly.
“Whether it’s kids or your own children or anyone else, they should not be able to get access to any firearms,” he said.
“But in any event, we’re going to have a major rewrite of the gun laws of the state.”
The premier’s pledge to get tough on guns echoed Police Minister Paul Papalia, who told a budget estimates hearing on Wednesday night there were still too many licensed firearms in WA.
Papalia promised reforms to the Firearms Act after reflecting on a shooting at a school in Perth’s northern suburbs on Wednesday.
“There are 360,000 or so licensed firearms in Western Australia. That is too many. They are too easily accessed,” he said.
Papalia said the act was being “completely rewritten” as the current laws did not elevate public safety.
“The question to ask with respect to today’s incident is: why do the current laws allow it? They did. The current laws allow for the proliferation of licensed firearms,” he said.
“In the last 13 years, there has been a 60 per cent growth in licensed firearms in Western Australia with no justification such as the demand for vermin eradication or for participation in competitive shooting. Around 60 per cent of the firearms are in the city.”
After Wednesday’s incident, Nine News Perth spoke to students who had been locked down for hours after hearing the gunshots.
“They had the curtains over the windows and we couldn’t see, but they didn’t block off the door so we could see all the police coming and the ambulance,” one girl said.
Another girl said she heard a “big bang” before her teacher told them to hide under their desks. Another student said they hid in a storage room.
WA Police Commissioner Col Blanch praised teachers and students at the school, revealing a 12-year-old boy was among those who called triple zero to alert police.
In a statement, Atlantis Beach Baptist College board chair Mike Smith said the school would remain closed on Thursday and reopen on Friday under a modified teaching program with support staff and counselling services on site.
Atlantis Beach Baptist College in Two Rocks was thrown into lockdown on Wednesday after a 15-year-old boy allegedly fired at buildings from the school’s car park.Credit: Nine News Perth
The college will reopen in full capacity on Monday.
“The College Board would like to thank the staff, administration team and the Western Australian Police for the way in which this incident was managed,” Smith said.
Former WA police commissioner Karl O’Callaghan said he recalled incidents at Perth schools where students had brought knives on campus but never a gun.
He said the job of police right now was to understand how such an incident could have occurred.
“When you see something like that obviously it’s quite shocking and disturbing to hear that that’s happened in a public school, in a school in Perth, but I think once you get over the initial shock you need to work out what the hell has gone on there and how you can do things about preventing this from occurring again,” he said.
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