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Mother Admits She Put Pistol in 7-Year-Old’s Backpack, Police Say
The woman, Deborah Farley, 53, was charged with criminal possession of a weapon, endangering the welfare of a child, drug possession and several other weapons-related charges. Judge Mary R. O’Donoghue of Queens Criminal Court set her bail at $35,000. Ms. Farley is expected to return to court on Feb. 6.
Ms. Farley, according to the police, admitted on Friday morning that she placed a handgun, ammunition and a flare gun in her son’s Batman backpack on Wednesday night and then forgot to take them out before he went to school the next morning.
The police said the child did not know he was bringing the weapon to school, though he discovered that there was a gun in his bag before school officials were alerted and the weapon was recovered by the authorities.
While the police gave a detailed account of the mother’s statement, the boy’s father, Walter Orozco, 56, denied that either he or his wife owned a gun and maintained that they had no idea how a weapon could have ended up in the boy’s bag.
“We’ve been living together for 11 years,” Mr. Orozco said Friday morning. “We never had a gun.”
Mr. Orozco said he spoke to his son, who told him he discovered the gun in his bag but did not know how it got there.
By the father’s account, the episode could have had a much more tragic ending, since the child felt bullied at school and often did not want to go to class.
“They called him sissy and white boy,” Mr. Orozco said, adding: “He didn’t want to go to school. He fakes like he’s coughing when he gets up in the morning.”
He added, “We always complained, but the school didn’t do anything.”
The police gave a very different version of events. Ms. Farley told detectives she was outside walking in Queens on Wednesday night, carrying her son’s backpack, with the gun and ammunition inside. She had also put a flare gun in the bag.
She forgot to remove the items when she returned home, according to the police, and the next morning her son grabbed his bag and went off to class at Wave Preparatory Elementary School in Far Rockaway.
Ms. Farley soon realized that she had left the gun in the bag, the police said, and rushed to the school, hoping to retrieve it without attracting attention. She signed the child out on the pretext that he had a dental appointment, the police said.
But when Ms. Farley made a quick search of the bag and did not immediately see the gun, she asked her son what he did with it.
“Thinking his mother was referring to the flare gun he had already given to another youngster in the school and not realizing himself that there was a handgun still in the bottom of his backpack,” the boy said he gave it to a friend, said Paul J. Browne, the chief spokesman for the Police Department.
“With that,” Mr. Browne added, “the mother told the principal, who alerted school safety officers, implemented a lockdown and located the other boy in one of the school’s second-floor classrooms, where the unloaded Orion flare gun was found in his backpack.”
A more thorough examination of Ms. Farley’s son’s backpack led to a Phoenix Arms .22-caliber semiautomatic pistol, a magazine with 10 rounds of .22-caliber ammunition and 14 additional rounds in a plastic bag.
Ms. Farley — who has four sons, ages 27, 21, 9 and 7 — initially told the authorities that her 9-year-old son, who was at home, saw his 7-year-old brother take a gun to school.
She provided a different account early Friday after detectives confronted her with additional evidence found when they searched her home, including more .22-caliber bullets. They also said they had evidence that she had kept an unlicensed handgun in her home, on Cornaga Avenue. In the home, the police said they found seven small bags of marijuana.
The 7- and 9-year-old boys were placed protective care, the police said.
Far Rockaway residents described Ms. Farley as a gregarious, well-known presence in a rough neighborhood. Julio Blancosantos, 22, who has cerebral palsy, said: “It doesn’t matter that I have a disability. I would still get robbed.”
Still, one resident, who declined to give his full name because of safety concerns, said he had lived in the area a long time and did not understand why Ms. Farley would need a firearm. “She knows everybody around here,” he said.
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