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Va. Father Who Left Gun in Pack Praises School's Action

By Christina A. Samuels
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, October 4, 2004; Page B03

A Prince William County man who forgot to take a handgun out of his son's backpack said yesterday that he takes full responsibility for the incident and that he believes authorities handled it properly.

Michael G. Fouche, 37, of Dumfries was charged with allowing children access to firearms and was released on a personal recognizance bond. At Montclair Elementary School on Thursday, a teacher discovered the loaded semiautomatic handgun inside the pack and notified authorities, police said.

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Fouche, a contractor who has a permit to carry a concealed weapon, said in an interview that he took his son to soccer practice Wednesday evening, brought along the gun -- which he said he carries all the time for self-defense -- and put it in the backpack for safekeeping. He said he forgot to remove the gun from the pack before sending his son to school.

Fouche said his son has special needs that make it necessary for him to always travel with medical equipment, a change of clothing and other supplies. The backpack is always carried by an adult, he said, noting that it is larger than packs typically carried by elementary students.

"I think of it like my college backpack," Fouche said.

On Thursday morning, Fouche said, he added a six-pack of applesauce cups to the backpack and told the school bus driver and attendant to notify his son's teacher that the food was there. Fouche said he was told by school officials that the weapon was discovered when the teacher opened the pack to get the food.

"I specifically told the bus driver that he had supplies in the bag that he needed to have taken out," Fouche said. "That's why this wasn't just a coincidence that it was found early in the day."

Prince William police said the weapon was discovered about 9:40 a.m., about 40 minutes after the school day started.

Fouche declined to reveal his son's age and grade, and police did not release that information. "The child had nothing to do with it," he said. Fouche also said that his son was not aware that the gun was in the pack and that no students were exposed to the weapon.

"I'm not trying to ameliorate my actions," he said, adding that "concerned is not even close" to describing his feelings about the incident.

Fouche, whose daughter attended Montclair, said he believes school officials handled the situation properly. He said he has not decided how he will plead to the criminal charge.

"I was very pleased with the school's response," he said. "They know my son, they know my daughter. . . . I had no problems cooperating fully."


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