A Meadowbrook Elementary first-grade student accidentally brought a loaded handgun to school in a backpack on Wednesday.
According to an Alachua County Sheriff’s Office (ACSO) release, the gun was discovered around 1 p.m. when the student’s teacher went to place items in the backpack for the student’s parent.
The school resource officer was contacted and the gun was secured to a location off campus before launching an investigation.
An investigation found that the student had previously not brought a backpack to school and the teacher ask the student’s parent to bring a backpack or bag so the teacher could send items home with the student.
On Wednesday, the student’s mother told the student to grab a backpack out of the trunk of their vehicle. The mother – who owns the handgun in question – said she normally keeps the firearm in the vehicle’s glove box or under the driver’s seat when occupied.
The student’s mother had loaned the vehicle to a family member, who ACSO contacted and the family member stated they were uncomfortable with the handgun being inside the vehicle, so they placed it inside the pocket of the backpack that was in the trunk. The family member did not disclose the information to the mother and did not believe that the backpack belonged to the student.
When the student grabbed the backpack out of the vehicle’s trunk, the mother did not realize that the handgun was inside.
ACSO consulted with the State Attorney’s Office and no criminal charges are being filed. The Department of Children and Family Services received notification of the incident for further follow-up.
“(Alachua County) Sheriff Watson wants to thank the observant teacher and school administrators who identified a serious situation and immediately enacted the notification of law enforcement to ensure the safety of everyone at the school,” the ACSO release stated. “While this situation appears to be a terrible accident, we want to impress upon our community the desperate need for safe and responsible gun ownership, as this incident could have had a far worse outcome.” A similar situation played out in 2021 when a 10-year-old brought a loaded gun to Oak View Middle School in Newberry. The ASCO also declined to bring charges in that incident.