Canton Police Chief Suspended Following Elementary School Gun Discovery
CANTON, Oklahoma - The Canton police chief has been suspended after a gun was discovered on the floor inside Canton Elementary School.
In an emergency city meeting Wednesday night, Chief Robert Murray was suspended for 30 days without pay stemming from an incident involving a gun at the elementary school.
On Monday, August 26 a female teacher discovered a loaded .22 caliber firearm on the floor in a staff bathroom. The teacher thought it was a toy. After bringing it to the principal’s office, it was determined the gun belonged to a teacher’s aide.
The aide has been identified as 32-year-old Shana Dighton.
The elementary school principal called a Canton police officer to pick up the evidence and bring it back to the department.
“The chief then decided to take it home, he said it was not an issue,” said Undersheriff David Robertson from the Blaine County Sheriff’s Office. “I found out about it Monday night and contacted the chief Tuesday morning.”
Murray may have taken the gun home because Dighton is his girlfriend. Dighton also served as a Canton reserve police officer, she has since resigned from the department following the incident.
Murray told the Blaine County undersheriff that Canton Schools didn't want to report the incident.
“The principal and the superintendent both assumed that something will be done and when we showed up, they were a little confused as to why we were there,” said Robertson. “When I informed them that there was no report generated and the chief said it was a non-issue, they were a little shocked.”
Robertson said both Murray and Dighton are council on Law Enforcement Education and Training (CLEET) certified.
Many parents have raised concerns after, they say, the district did not notify them on the same day the incident happened.
Canton Public School Superintendent Daniel Ingham said he was waiting for more facts to become available in order to prevent any type of hysteria.
The district is looking into its policy and methods of communication with the community.
Being a rural district, officials have discussed the idea of allowing firearms in the building.
“As a district we need to be 100% sure this is what we want to do and that we are comfortable with it,” said Ingham. “After this I think there are more people that are not comfortable with it than there were before.”
Police have since searched all district buildings. No other weapons were found.
“Luckily it was in the teacher’s restroom, no children were allowed in there,” said Robertson. “It could have easily been the hallway or a classroom.
The Blaine County Sheriff’s Office is recommending a felony charge of bringing a firearm to a school for Dighton.
Murray could be charged with dereliction of duty and tampering with evidence, both are misdemeanor charges.
The district attorney will review the case.
The Blaine County Sheriff’s Office continues to investigate the incident.