CHURCH HILL, Tenn. – A mother of a kindergarten student was charged with assault Thursday and banned from a school after officials said she walked into a classroom, pointed a toy gun at students and pulled the trigger several times.
The incident happened Tuesday, a day after the shootings at Virginia Tech, and scared teachers and students.
Church Hill police and Hawkins County school officials met with Heather Nicole Berg, 26, earlier Thursday before charging her with misdemeanor assault. She was already banned from Church Hill Elementary School for one year.
Berg had a "silver toy cap gun," police said.
"A staff member and several children initially thought the gun was real and were fearful," police chief Mark Johnson and detective Dustin Dean said in a press release.
Police said they could not release details of Berg's statement about why she had the gun at the school.
"Nevertheless, Berg's actions constituted a monumental lapse in judgment," the release said. "After completing the interview and consulting with the DA's office, we have charged Berg with assault. It is our contention that her actions caused others to 'reasonably fear imminent bodily injury."'
School officials said the woman and another small child went to her student's classroom to pay for an upcoming field trip, and the incident happened when the teacher turned around to log in the payment.
"The mom walked in toward the middle of the classroom, and the teacher heard this click, click, click, click -- like four to six times," school principal Jean Heise said. "A teacher's assistant witnessed her take a gun and point it directly toward four to five kids. With everything that's happened the last couple of days, she (the assistant) was just in shock."
She then left with the small child and took the gun with her.
Heise immediately called the police. Later, she apologized to the principal and said, "I didn't mean any harm," Heise said.
Berg was set to appear in Hawkins County General Sessions Court in Rogersville on April 30. If convicted, she could face up to a year in prison and a maximum fine of $2,500.
Church Hill is about nine miles west of Kingsport, along the Virginia border.