The Press Newspaper
It may have been a small thing, but to the members of Oregon City Council, Mayor Mike Seferian and Police Chief Mike Navarre, what young Elijah Meade, 11, did on Sept. 4 deserved recognition.
During its Sept. 10 meeting, council applauded the quick thinking of Elijah, a fifth-grade student at Starr Elementary School.
According to Navarre, Elijah and a friend were playing in a field behind a building in the 2300 block of Starr Avenue. What the young man found while exploring under a tree was shocking. Elijah found a loaded .22 caliber revolver.
“We oftentimes hear very, very tragic stories when kids find guns, because bad things can happen,” Navarre told council. “Eli, to his credit, did the right thing. He went and told his mother and his mother called the police. It is just a little thing, but it is really important.”
Seferian then read a letter of recognition from the city and council, saying the recognition was in honor of the young man’s “keen decision-making skills.”
“You were able to recognize this could have been a dangerous threat to anyone who came upon it, especially to younger, less knowledgeable children,” Seferian said. “You were able to seek the correct assistance in removing this lethal, potentially life-threatening instrument from harm’s way. It is remarkable you were able to recognize the danger and take appropriate action. You have exhibited the traits of a good leader. The City of Oregon thanks you.”
Seferian told Elijah the city will put together an official proclamation to be given to him in the next week.
Navarre said after the meeting that he and D.A.R.E. Officer Sara Shaw thought the city and the department needed to officially recognize Elijah for his actions.
“He did the right thing and we wanted to make a big deal out of it,” Navarre said. “At that age, children are very impressionable. We want him and his classmates to know he did the right thing and we hope that if they are faced with a similar situation, they will act in the same manner.”
Shaw also put together a video announcement at Starr for Elijah and his classmates on Tuesday.
“In the course of my career, there have been many instances where a tragic result has followed similar circumstance,” Navarre said. “I have seen people pick up guns and shoot themselves or their friends. Loaded guns and children are a bad combination.”
Navarre said the department has yet to determine if the weapon had been used in a crime. He added the department will hold onto the weapon in case there is a call for a .22 that may have been used in the commission of a crime.
Holly explained that Elijah was out playing with a younger female friend. While his playmate was riding her bike, Elijah was doing what boys tend to do – he was digging in some brush under a tree.
“When he found the gun, he told his friend they had to leave right away and go tell someone,” Holly said. “He told his friend, ‘We have to do something.’”
As Elijah ran home and told his mom, Holly said she initially thought, “Oh, Eli. Yeah, you found a gun. I’ll be right out.
“I knew it was serious by the look on his face,” she said. “I went with him, saw the gun, and called the police.”
Holly said while in the area, she and her son also found hypodermic needles and empty baggies, further testament to the possible dangerous situations taking place in the field.
A single mom, Holly and Elijah moved to the area two years ago from a farmhouse in Pennsylvania. She holds several jobs in order to be able to support her son.
“I have always tried to make the most of our time together,” she said. “I have had talks with him about drugs, guns and hanging around the wrong people. Sometimes you wonder if the things you say to your child get through. Now I know it does get through, that he is listening.”
Holly said her son now realizes that what he did was a “big deal” and she gives a lot of credit to officer Shaw.
“I think he gets it was a big deal after going to council and being recognized at school,” she said. “Officer Shaw is one of the nicest officers out there. He is just so comfortable with her and he sees police officers in a positive light now. I want him to continue to make good choices from now on.”