The Herald Bulletin

Afternoon Update

Cops, courts and fires

April 16, 2014

Police: Woman brings handgun to school

ANDERSON, Ind. — An Anderson woman said she forgot she was carrying a gun Wednesday when she went to St. Mary’s School to meet with a principal and discuss a threat made against her son.

Following the incident, Bonnie Trahan, 27, was charged with possession of a firearm on school property, a Class D felony under Indiana law.

In an interview with The Herald Bulletin, Trahan said she pulled a .40-caliber Glock pistol from the waistband of her pants and placed it on a table at St. Mary’s School, 1115 Pearl St., during a meeting with the principal.

Trahan, who received a lifetime permit to carry a gun from the Indiana State Police in February, said she was carrying the handgun in her sweatpants when she went into the downtown parochial school to talk with school administrators. She said she asked for the meeting after another student threatened her 8-year-old son’s life.

“This is what I get for trying to protect my son,” Trahan said after bonding out of the Madison County Jail. “I don’t feel like I did anything wrong. They are lucky it was me and not someone with intent.”

Joel Sandefur, public information officer with the Anderson Police Department, said police responded to the school after receiving a call about an “upset” parent with a handgun.

“During the conference, Bonnie, who was still upset, said she thought her son was not safe,” Sandefur said. “That is when she told the principal and assistant principal she was carrying a handgun and pointed to the back of her pants, stating how easy it was to bring a gun into the school.”

Sandefur said school officials were “startled” when Trahan reached to her pants and “threw” a loaded gun in its holster onto the table. The gun’s magazine capacity was full at 10 rounds. Trahan attended the meeting with her brother, Kirt Trahan, and her son, Dallas McAllister.

Monsignor Robert Sell, pastor of the parish for St. Mary’s and St. Ambrose churches in Anderson, said that as soon as the school was aware of a threat officials proceeded with a crisis management plan to ensure the safety of the students. The school was immediately closed to visitors.

Sell and Elisha Schlabach, principal of St. Mary’s School, spoke with The Herald Bulletin after police said Trahan had been arrested and the lockdown had been lifted.

“We have sent out an electronic message and we are sending home a written statement,” Sell said. “We also went around to each classroom to talk with the children and reassure them of their safety. We did not give them any details, but we told them to talk with their parents and we invited them to pray for our continued safety.”

Sell said the school followed the guidance of the police and added additional security measures following the incident. The Trahans were told not to be on school property, he said.

“We do have in effect a crisis management plan and our primary purpose is the safety and security of our children and those entrusted to us,” Sell said. “We are following those guidelines and they will remain in place as long as needed.”

Trahan, who is 4 feet, 10 inches tall and weighs about 105 pounds, said she was recently robbed at work. She said she carries the handgun because she has been a victim of crimes on a number of occasions.

“I always have it on me,” she said. “That’s why it didn’t click that I was walking into the school with a handgun.”

On Wednesday, Trahan said the weight of the handgun was pulling her sweatpants down during the meeting so she placed it on the table. The principal said the meeting was over as soon as she saw the weapon, Trahan said.

Trahan, who went to the school with her brother and her 8-year-old son, immediately left the school and went home.

“I went home and placed my gun and purse on the table,” she said. “That’s when I thought I needed to go back and explain myself. I tried to call, but they did not answer and when I went back they would not let me in the school.”

Trahan said police arrested her in the church’s parking lot across from the school.

Her brother was also arrested Wednesday for failure to appear in court for a civil case unrelated to the school incident.

Trahan said there was no notice on the school door stating that guns were prohibited from the building.

Sandefur said Trahan should have known it was illegal in Indiana to possess a firearm on school property.

“Reasonable sense dictates you should not bring a gun into the schools,” he said. “It has been a topic and discussed in the various media. I don’t see it being a viable excuse that she did not see signs posted and that makes her ignorant of the law.”

Trahan also acknowledged to The Herald Bulletin that in 2009 she stabbed Thomas Parke in a home in the 1000 block of Silver Court after he put his hand into her clothes. Parke’s femoral artery was severed in the stabbing, but Sandefur said Parke declined to take legal action against Trahan and no charges were filed.

Like Traci L. Moyer on Facebook and follow her @moyyer on Twitter, or call 648-4250.

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