10-year-old unknowingly brings loaded gun to school

Update: The weapon the student brought to school was a loaded semi-automatic handgun, according to the Alachua County Sheriff’s Office report on the incident, which Mainstreet Daily News obtained through an open records request. 

The reporting officer, Deputy Montana Sayers, said the gun had a bullet in the chamber and eight rounds in the magazine. The 10-year-old student told Sayers his father had placed the gun in the backpack—along with a jacket and some diapers—as the family had left a softball tournament last weekend.

“I removed the jacket and diapers from the bag and found a Black Handgun that was secured in a black, plastic holster,” Sayers wrote. “I made the weapon safe and placed it into my ACSO issued safe and [met] with administration.”

Sayers, principal Kelly Armstrong, school district security chief Casey Hamilton and another deputy subsequently met with the student and his parents. Sayers then released the handgun back into the 35-year-old father’s possession in the school parking lot. 

Sayers commended the student—whose name Mainstreet is withholding for privacy. 

“[The boy’s] story matched up with his dad’s, and it was found that it was accidental that [he] had the gun in his backpack and that he did an amazing job telling the teacher and doing the right thing,” Sayers wrote. 

Our original report:

A student at Newberry’s Oak View Middle School reportedly found a gun in his backpack on Tuesday and turned it over to a teacher.

According to a letter principal Kelly Armstrong addressed to “Oak View Middle School Families” Tuesday afternoon, students did not remove the gun from the bag at any point.

“Earlier today one of our students discovered that a family member had mistakenly placed a firearm in his backpack,” the letter said. “The student immediately reported it to the teacher and our school resource officer [SRO] then secured the firearm. At no time was it removed or displayed by the student.”

The letter said Oak View and the district are following normal procedures to address the incident. 

“Our SRO, Deputy Sayers, and local law enforcement are also involved,” the letter said. “Although it appears this incident was unintentional, it is being fully investigated. Obviously, we take it very seriously whenever any weapon is found on campus.”

The letter asks parents to “please remind your student never to bring any weapon to school, including toy weapons. We also ask parents/family members to ensure that any firearms or other weapons in the household are securely stored out of the reach of children.”

Armstrong noted that law enforcement is investigating the incident.

“The safety and security of our students and staff is our highest priority,” the letter said. “We thank you for your patience as school/district staff and law enforcement investigate this incident. We also thank you for helping us keep everyone at Oak View Middle School safe.”

Alachua County Sheriff’s Office (ASO) spokesperson Kaley Behl said no charges will be filed against the parent, because the situation was an accident. 

“The parent put the gun in the wrong backpack accidentally,” Behl wrote in an email. “The child got to school and discovered the gun in the backpack and did the right thing by reporting it to the school officials.”

Behl said the ASO’s official report is in the approval process as of Wednesday morning.

The complete Armstrong letter:

Oak View Middle School Families,

Earlier today one of our students discovered that a family member had mistakenly placed a firearm in his backpack. The student immediately reported it to the teacher and our school resource officer then secured the firearm. At no time was it removed or displayed by the student.

The school and the district are following the district’s procedures in addressing this situation. Our SRO, Deputy Sayers, and local law enforcement are also involved. Although it appears this incident was unintentional, it is being fully investigated. Obviously, we take it very seriously whenever any weapon is found on campus

We ask that you please remind your student never to bring any weapon to school, including toy weapons. We also ask parents/family members to ensure that any firearms or other weapons in the household are securely stored out of the reach of children.

The safety and security of our students and staff is our highest priority. We thank you for your patience as school/district staff and law enforcement investigate this incident. We also thank you for helping us keep everyone at Oak View Middle School safe.

Sincerely,

Mr. Armstrong

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