GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — One of the women charged after a child brought a gun to a Grand Rapids elementary school told investigators that she bought it off the street for $150, court records say.
Chelsea Berkley, 29, was arraigned Wednesday on a charge of being a felon in possession of a firearm. The charge is a five-year felony. Police say she bought the pink 9 mm gun that was discovered May 3 in her fiancee’s 7-year-old son’s backpack at Cesar E. Chavez Elementary.
A probable cause document says Berkley admitted to police she had bought the gun for $150 on the street from “an unknown male.” That was three to four months before she was locked up in the Kent County jail for first-degree retail fraud in November 2022.
The affidavit says while Berkley “felt it was either stolen or had something going on with it,” she did not know the gun’s serial number was scratched out. She also said the weapon did not come with any ammunition or an ammunition clip when she bought it.
Berkley’s live-in fiancée, Aubrey Wilson, told investigators she found out Berkley had a gun in the home in November 2022, just before she went to jail. The gun had been in the bedroom closet but Wilson told police she moved it to a drawer next to her bed and then forgot about it.
Wilson’s 7-year-old son, who lived in the home, told police he found the gun in the drawer next to his mother’s bed. He said he had never seen it before and was worried his mother would get in trouble over for it. He said Wilson warned him not to tell anyone about the gun.
On May 3, the child brought the gun to school in his backpack. He told a classmate who reported him to teachers. Teachers and staff searched the student’s backpack and found it. It was not loaded and did not have a magazine.
Wilson, 32, faces fourth-degree child abuse charges, a misdemeanor punishable by up to 1 year in jail and a $1,000 fine. It’s unclear when Wilson will be arraigned.
Kent County Prosecutor Chris Becker said children under the age of 10 are presumed criminally incompetent under Michigan law, so the law does not hold them accountable. Instead, police and the prosecutor looked at actions by adults.
There have been four cases of guns at GRPS middle or elementary schools this school year, which prompted the district to enact a mandatory backpack ban for the remainder of the school year. The most recent case was last week when a third grader brought a loaded gun to Stocking Elementary. No one was hurt.
— News 8’s Rachel Van Gilder contributed to this report.