15-Year-Old Arrested for Shooting at School Bathroom Urinal, Cops Say
By DNAinfo Staff on October 1, 2012 6:51am
LOWER MANHATTAN — A 15-year-old student fired a gun in the bathroom of his Financial District high school earlier this month, destroying a urinal but not hurting anyone, officials said.
Jason Morel, a sophomore from the East Village, told police he brought the .38 caliber handgun to the Leadership and Public Service High School, at 90 Trinity Place, on the morning of Sept. 19 because he wanted to show it off to friends, sources said.
Morel thought the weapon was unloaded when he accidentally fired it in a bathroom at the school about 8 a.m., shattering a urinal, police said.
Students and school officials heard the boom and initially thought it was fireworks — until a school safety officer found a shell casing on the bathroom floor a few hours later and told the school to call the police, sources said.
Officials briefly locked down the school during the investigation, preventing students from leaving their classrooms, students said.
After speaking to students and reviewing video surveillance, police arrested Morel in Gramercy Park that afternoon and charged him with criminal possession of a weapon and reckless endangerment, treating him as an adult, according to the criminal complaint.
He was arraigned Friday on an indictment that was sealed until his next court date Oct. 5.
Morel was also suspended from school, his mother Julie Cherrez said.
Morel told his mother he picked up the gun after he saw two men toss it in a trash can, and then he put it in his backpack and brought it to school, Cherrez, 48, said.
"He's not a troublemaker. He's a good kid," she said. "This is just something stupid.
"He said, 'I didn't know it would go off,' Thank God he didn't hurt himself or no one else."
Students at the Leadership and Public Service High School were stunned that one of their classmates had brought a gun to school — and they were upset that they were subjected to metal detectors the following day as a result.
"Whoever did it is just idiotic," said Shannon Cintron, 17, a senior at the school.
"These kids brought a gun to school probably to impress their friends and they wound up endangering the lives of other kids, and now it's like our privacy is being violated."
Kassandra Ramirez, 17, another senior, said she was angry that when she went through the new metal detector, a security guard asked for her books and started sniffing them, as though looking for drugs.
"They were treating us like animals," Ramirez said. "We're not a bad school so it's just mind-boggling."
Students said school officials denied that a gun went off, but word quickly spread through the grapevine.
"I couldn't believe that shots were fired from our school," Ramirez said. "I was shocked."
The Department of Education referred questions to the NYPD.
Cherrez, who also has two daughters ages 28 and 19, described her son as a strong student who likes to play basketball and video games and is often on his phone texting his girlfriend.
She said her family was rattled by the incident, but she hopes Morel can now get back to focusing on his studies.
"I hope he learns a lesson. He should know better," she said. "I want him to move on and do good."
With reporting by Aidan Gardiner