The obsession many Ontarians have over handguns seems to know no limits—it’s jumped the shark, so to speak. How bizarre is it that a resident of Kitchener, Ontario should be arrested, led away in handcuffs and later strip-searched because his 4-year-old daughter drew a picture of a gun at school? Very.
The principal of Forest Hill Public School, Kitchener police and child welfare officials, however, all reportedly stand by their actions. According to The Record, “they said they had to investigate to determine whether there was a gun in [Jessie] Sansone’s house that children had access to.”
Toy gun Jessie Sansone’s daughter apparently used as a model for her drawing. | Peter Lee/Record staff
Mr. Sansone didn’t find out for hours what had actually sparked his arrest. He apparently went to the school Wednesday afternoon to pick up his three children. Once there, he was summoned to the principal’s office where he was confronted by three police officers, who said he was being charged with possession of a firearm. He was then escorted from the school, handcuffed and put in the back of a police cruiser.
Other police officers arrived at his home, where they took his wife, Stephanie Squires, to the police station while his three children were taken to Family and Children’s Services to be interviewed. “Nobody was given any explanation,” said his wife. “I didn’t know why he was being arrested.”
At the police station, Mr. Sansone reportedly talked to a lawyer who said only that he was being charged with possession of a firearm.
And why the arrest, handcuffs and strip-search? Well, several hours after being arrested, a detective apologized to Mr. Sansone and finally told him. The detective said Mr. Sansone’s four-year-old daughter had drawn a picture of a man holding a gun and, when a teacher asked her who the man was, the girl replied, “That’s my daddy’s. He uses it to shoot bad guys and monsters.”
Police reportedly interviewed other children at the school and say they provided astonishingly accurate descriptions of a semi-automatic weapon, a gun that the teacher had been told “was actively floating around the house,” said Waterloo Regional Police Insp. Kevin Thaler.
Yes, children are such reliable sources—never known to elaborate or say what they think you want them to hear.
That’s all it took. And guess what? The drawing school, police and child welfare officials relied on to trigger their heavy-handed reaction was of a toy gun.
Let’s hope Mr. Sansone finds himself a good lawyer and sues everyone connected to this sorry tale.