RICHMOND — Tripp MacMaster learned from his father Scott to do the right thing.

The 11-year-old did just that Tuesday morning after his friend showed him a loaded gun. The student had brought the weapon to Marcia Buker Elementary School and kept it in a backpack.

The fifth-grader said he was “nervous” about the situation, but immediately knew what to do.

“I thought instantly that I was going to tell the teacher,” Tripp said, adding that he worried if his friend got mad they “could have pulled it out. I waited until recess,” until they were away from the gun.

That meant waiting two hours after he was shown the gun, until 11:30 a.m., before Tripp told his friend to tell the teacher about the loaded weapon. At that point, word spread through classmates, Tripp said, and some were “scared,” some were “crying” and others were “fine with it.”

“She just kept as calm as possible not to let a signal out to scare students,” he said of his teacher. “She didn’t want to scare anyone, and she walked through the door with the kid.”


According to Richmond police, officers responded to the elementary school at 11:45 a.m. and interviewed the student who brought the gun. The police do not believe the student had any intention of using it.

Students stayed in school for the rest of the day, including Tripp’s class. Parents were notified of the incident via text message from Regional School Unit 2 Superintendent Tonya Arnold, and some were upset they did not receive more information.

Wednesday was a scheduled remote learning day for the students, but Tripp said he had not heard any updates on the situation from school administration.

He said his friend had the gun because of family issues at home.

“I’m sure he wasn’t going to trouble or hurt anyone,” Tripp said. “Maybe he thought it was cool and thought it was scary once he got there (to school).”

Scott MacMaster, police chief in Hallowell who formerly served in the same role in Richmond, said the nature of his work in law enforcement has led to conversations about gun safety with Tripp. He said he has talked with his son about “doing the right thing” and trusting his instincts.

“We have talked about when you see something that is suspicious, and no matter what, if you’re at a friends house, your house, or school or if you see a gun, you leave it where it is and let an adult know,” MacMaster said.

He had gotten a call from Richmond Police Chief James Donnell on Tuesday to discuss handling of the incident, but wasn’t told at that time Tripp was the involved. MacMaster said he was a “little peeved” when he heard Tripp was involved and called the situation “nerve wracking.” But he added that he wouldn’t have wanted any other child to have to handle the situation than Tripp because of “his resilience.” He is proud of his son for thinking fast and trusting his instinct.

“Once I found out, I gave him (Donnell) grief in a joking way, but I fell in line with everyone on Richmond Family and Friends who wanted to know more,” MacMaster said. “I would have liked to know more, but in a professional sense, I understood why they did what they did.”

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