By Nicole Weisensee Egan March 11, 2001, Sunday Copyright 2001 Knight Ridder/Tribune News Service Knight Ridder/Tribune News Service Philadelphia Daily News March 11, 2001, Sunday
(PHILADELPHIA) -- For years, Kennett Square Police Chief Albert McCarthy had taught Corey Medina and his classmates to stay away from guns.
But he never dreamed he'd be the one to put Medina to the test.
Last week, that's exactly what happened when McCarthy inadvertently left his Glock semi-automatic on the windowsill of the Chester County, Pa., school's bathroom. Medina found it a few minutes later, then told his teacher.
Now, the 12-year-old sixth-grader is a hero at his school because he did exactly what he was taught to do.
McCarthy is on a four-day unpaid suspension _ imposed by himself.
It's an odd turn of events, but one that everyone is glad had a happy ending.
"I feel good. I'm proud of myself," Medina said.
McCarthy said he's proud of him, too.
"It's one thing to teach kids things because you're never sure the message is getting across," McCarthy said.
"There's no question Corey got the message. He never even touched the gun."
Shortly before 11 a.m. Wednesday, McCarthy arrived at Mary D. Lane Elementary School in Kennett Square to give his Drug Abuse Resistance Education (DARE) lecture.
It was the first time in 11 years of teaching the class that he brought his gun into the school building. But unnerved by the shooting at a California school on Monday, he decided to wear it.
"I thought _ what if someone stumbles into one of these schools and I'm there in uniform?" he said. "I have to do something."
During the lecture, he noticed his shirt was untucked, so during the video portion of his program, he ducked into the bathroom adjacent to the classroom to adjust his clothing.
He removed the gun from its holster, took the bullet clip out and placed the clip in his pocket. He then disabled the gun and set it on the windowsill.
It is a routine he follows diligently at home to protect his four children.
But moments later, he got a call about a major development in an important theft case and he walked out of the restroom to take the call.
A minute or so later, Medina walked into the bathroom and spotted the gun on the windowsill.
His heart began racing.
"I was kinda scared," he said. "So I went to my teacher and whispered in her ear that I found a gun."
She immediately went out to tell McCarthy, who was in the next classroom giving another DARE lecture.
"As soon as she told me I knew it was mine," he said.
When he returned to the station, he immediately informed his lieutenant and then announced he was suspending himself without pay for four days.
"I'm the leader of the organization and they have to understand there aren't two sets of rules," he said. "I could have covered it up, but it would've been the wrong thing to do."
He returned to the school later in the day and talked to the whole sixth-grade class and told them what happened.
"They needed to hear from me what happened and what Corey did," he said. "And they needed to hear what we were going to do about it, that there were consequences to my actions, which is what I teach them."
McCarthy said the last few days have been rough for him emotionally.
"I'm going through all the stages of grief, physically and emotionally," he said. "My stomach is a mess. I'm angry at myself. I've spent my entire career teaching crime prevention, and I'm the guy who put them in danger."
Medina, who admitted he was surprised that McCarthy had been careless enough to leave the gun behind, said he thought the chief was being too hard on himself.