VIDALIA, La. (KTVE/KARD) – A Vidalia student is in custody after the child allegedly sent a picture of what appeared to be an AR-Style weapon to a group chat involving other children.

According to Vidalia Chief of Police, Joey Merrill, the incident happened August 15th, when a parent of one of the students in the group chat got a hold of her daughter’s phone, and noticed a disturbing text. The parent stepped in and reported the incident.

Merrill says ,even though the student did not threaten the other students, he says talking about weapons at the start of school still worries him.

“This is a very serious offense, you know. It’s an act of terrorism. You don’t necessarily have to act it out, if you cause people to be scared, you can be charged.”

The incident involved a student from Vidalia Upper Elementary School. Merrill says the child was at home when they sent the picture to the chat, and asked the other kids if they should bring the weapon to school.

“You know, you have to take it seriously. Whether it could’ve happened or would’ve happened, we are just glad it didn’t. These are all good kids, so for them to have a text like that in a group chat, it was very shocking and disturbing.”

“Parents need to take responsibility for not having weapons around kids. Put it in a safe or stuff like that. Weapons around kids like that shouldn’t happen,” said Andrew Canary, a local parent.

Local officials conducted an investigation and were able to locate the child. Both the child and mother were brought to the police department. There, the child was arrested after admitting to posting the picture. Merrill advises that parents be on alert.

“This goes to show you how important it is to check these kids’ phones at these ages. We would’ve hoped that this never happened, but you can’t underestimate anything these days.”

The student had a hearing on August 16th, 2022, and the case remains under investigation. No weapon was brought to the campus.