State police say Knox bus driver should've stopped, checked students with guns

School officials found two guns that were taken to Dewitt Elementary School for show-and-tell | Photo by Phil Pendleton

KNOX CO., Ky. (WKYT) - Kentucky State Police have charged a bus driver, the parents of two Knox County elementary school students, and two children who took two guns to school Thursday morning.

John W. Jackson Jr., 50, from Flat Lick is charged with endangering the welfare of a minor. Melissa Jackson, 44, is charged with endangering the welfare of a minor as well. She was cited and released. The boys are now with their grandparents.

The bus driver, Charles R. Honce III, was arrested at Dewitt Elementary at approximately 5 p.m. Thursday. Honce is charged with facilitation to unlawfully possess a weapon on school property.

State police say a student who was riding the bus told Honce that a child had a handgun, but Honce failed to alert any school staff -- or stop and check for weapons.

"He should've felt that he needed to stop and check, but however he didn't. And we charged him and placed him in custody," explained Kentucky State Police Trooper Shane Jacobs, "school is a place for kids to be able to come and feel safe and learn and get their education."

Honce is being held in the Knox County Detention Center.

Knox County Schools spokesperson Frank Shelton says teachers discovered the guns -- one of which was loaded -- after the bus arrived at the school. A student told a teacher it was in their backpacks. The teachers discovered the guns after the boys, who are 6 and 7, got off the school bus and went to class. They immediately notified the principal, who called Kentucky State Police at 7:20 a.m.

"We moved quickly," he said. "Thankfully the students let our faculty know what was going on. We put the school in a soft lock down. Just so that we could secure the children and the weapons and move on."

Trooper Jacobs says the students, a kindergartner and first grader, got the guns from their parents. The guns had been stored in a high location, but the children managed to find the weapons, Jacobs said.

The brothers were with state troopers and the guns were confiscated. Jacobs says both boys will face charges as required by state law for any weapon brought on school property.

Kelly Sprinkles, superintendent of Knox County Public Schools, sent parents a letter to inform them about the incident. The letter assured parents that students were not in danger.

"This was a violation of state law; therefore the students involved will be subject to school board policy and appropriate laws that govern weapons on school property," Sprinkles wrote.

The letter suggests that parents discuss the incident with their children and emphasize "that it is against the law to bring weapons of any type to school."

The letter says parents check backpacks to ensure weapons are not taken to school.

School officials found two guns that were taken to Dewitt Elementary School for show-and-tell | Photo by Phil Pendleton