By Michael Winter
A New York mother of four was arrested Friday after her 7-year-old son unwittingly brought an unlicensed .22-caliber semi-automatic pistol, ammunition and a flare gun to his school.
Deborah Farley, 53, of Queens, was charged with criminal possession of a weapon, other weapons charges and endangering the welfare of a child.
Police say Farley told them she had placed the guns and ammunition in her son's Batman backpack Wednesday night and went out walking in her Far Rockaway neighborhood. She claimed she forgot to remove before her son went to school the next morning, according to news reports.
It was not clear why Farley would take a flare gun on a walk.
Farley came to Wave Preparatory Elementary School on Thursday morning to try to retrieve the weapons, saying she needed to take her son to the dentist. Asked about "the gun," the boy apparently thought his mother meant the flare gun, which he said he had given to a classmate. The Phoenix Arms .22, however, was still in the bottom of his bag.
Fearing another second grader had the .22, police said, Farley confessed to the principal, who announced a lockdown, terrifying students and teachers.
"They made us turn off the lights and hide behind the teacher's desk next to the closets," 8-year-old Shakyla Howard told the New York Daily News, adding that her classroom door did not have a lock. "Our teacher almost started crying because she didn't want us to get hurt."
School security officials first found the unloaded flare gun, then discovered the .22 in Farley's son's bag.
Besides the guns, police recovered a magazine with 10 .22-caliber rounds and 14 other bullets in a plastic bag. Police found additional ammunition and seven small bags of marijuana in Farley's apartment.
The boys were placed into protective care.
Their father, Walter Orozco, 56, denied that either he or Farley owned a gun and that neither they nor their 7-year-old son knew how the weapon got into the boy's bag,The New York Times reports.
Police said Farley recanted her initial statement that her 9 year old saw his younger brother take the gun.
Farley also has sons who are 27 and 21. Police sources told the Daily News that investigators planned to question the 21 year old, who has a criminal record and may own the gun.