IS 59 sixth-grader held in gun possession case

By Michael Morton

The youngster allegedly took the gun, suspected of belonging to his father, to the school in order to show it to other students, police and community leaders said. When officers went to the boy's home, they also reportedly found marijuana and drug paraphernalia belonging to his father, police said. The 11-year-old, a sixth-grader whose name was not released by police, was charged Friday in Queens Family Court in Jamaica with attempted possession of a weapon, unlawful possession of a weapon by a person under 16 and possession of a revolver or ammunition for a revolver, a court official said. The boy was expected to return to court this week so a judge could hear more about the reasons for the charges. While the court official said it was too early to tell what could happen to boy, in general young defendants in such cases can be sent to juvenile detention centers if found guilty. The case will be decided by the judge rather than a jury.The boy, who has been suspended from school, denied the charges in court Friday. His father, Lyndon Whiteman, 40, of 121-29 Grayson St. was arraigned Friday in Queens Supreme Court in Kew Gardens on criminal possession of a weapon, endangering the welfare of a child and possession of marijuana charges. He must next return to court Feb. 7 and could face up to 15 years in prison if later convicted. Charges were dropped against the mother.After the 11-year-old arrived at school Jan. 19, he reportedly showed off the handgun to other students, said state Assemblyman William Scarborough (D-St. Albans), who previously adopted the school with City Councilman Leroy Comrie (D-St. Albans). One of the students then told their teacher, who alerted school safety officers, Scarborough said. Safety officers took the whole class outside, where police eventually located the loaded weapon, a 9mm handgun, he said.Officers arrested the student on gun charges and his mother on charges of criminal possession of a weapon and endangering the welfare of a child and took them to Jamaica's 113th Precinct, police said. While the boy's father, Whiteman, was also arrested later that day, prosecutors decided to drop charges against the 11-year-old's mother.Whiteman told police he kept the gun in a closet at home and that the marijuana was five years old, according to a criminal complaint filed with the DA. Officers also found a sword at the Grayson Street home, where Whiteman and his wife live with the 11-year-old and three other children, two teenagers and a 4-year-old, the complaint said.It was not the first time a had brought a loaded weapon to class in southeast Queens. In 1999, then District 29 Superintendent Celestine Miller was fired for failing to report in a timely manner that a boy had come to a Rosedale school with a loaded gun.IS 59 does not have metal detectors, which are placed according to perceived need, Scarborough said. In the 2003-04 academic year, the school, which has 1,445 students, registered two major crimes, according to the most recent police statistics. Schools of similar size in the city recorded an average of 1.6 in the category, which includes felony assaults, robberies, rapes and murders. The same year, IS 59 also reported 11 less serious crimes, however, well above the 5.6 average.Scarborough said the school declined after Principal Antonio K'Tori left in 2000 but has since rebounded under new head Carleton Gordon.”I think it's an aberration given how the school's been doing this year,” the assemblyman said of the gun incident. “The school has taken a very significant turnaround.”Reach reporter Michael Morton by e-mail at news@timesledger.com or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 154.

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