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Handgun found in elementary student’s backpack

Press release from Alachua County Sheriff’s Office

GAINESVILLE, Fla. – On Wednesday, May 3, the School Resource Deputy for Meadowbrook Elementary School was contacted by school administrators regarding a firearm that was located within a backpack belonging to a first-grade student, and the Sheriff’s Office has investigated the incident.

At approximately 1:00 p.m. on Wednesday, Meadowbrook Elementary School administrators contacted Juvenile Relations Deputy C. Anderson, who is currently assigned to Meadowbrook as the School Resource Deputy, after a first-grade teacher located a handgun within the backpack of one of his students. Deputy Anderson responded to the front office, where he confirmed that the item found inside the backpack, was, in fact, a loaded handgun. The firearm was immediately made “safe” and stored in a secure location, away from the school, before Deputy Anderson launched an investigation into the incident.

Deputy Anderson’s very thorough and now complete investigation revealed the following accidental, yet very frightening chain of events that led to this incident:

The first-grade student who was in possession of the backpack containing the firearm is one who has not brought any type of backpack to school in months. The teacher of this student made a request to the parent that the student please bring a backpack or some other type of bag to school, so that the teacher may send items home with the student. On Wednesday, the mother of the student instructed the student to go into the trunk of their vehicle and retrieve an old and tattered backpack to fulfill the request of the teacher.

The mother of the student does own the firearm in question, but the firearm is normally stored within the glovebox of her vehicle or under the driver’s seat when occupied. The mother of the student loaned the vehicle to a family member, who was contacted and stated that they were uncomfortable with the firearm being inside the vehicle, so they placed the firearm inside a pocket within the backpack, which was in the trunk of the vehicle. The family member did not disclose this information to the mother of the student. The family member did not believe that the old and tattered backpack belonged to the student, as she knows the student to have newer and nicer backpacks at home.

Unbeknownst to the mother of the student, the child carried the backpack into the school without any knowledge that the handgun was inside. The teacher retrieved the backpack to place items inside of it for the parent, and the gun was found by the teacher.

Based upon all information obtained during this investigation, as well as discussion with the State Attorney’s Office, no criminal charges are being filed. A notification regarding this incident was made to the Department of Children and Family Services for further follow-up.

Sheriff Watson wants to thank the observant teacher and school administrators who identified a serious situation and immediately notified law enforcement to ensure the safety of everyone at the school.

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.

  • If that parent has a valid concealed carry or firearm license, it should be immediately revoked. I don’t care if it was an accident. accidents like this should not happen with firearms, and it appears that the firearm was basically at any and all time within access of the child. No excuses. And there should probably be a law against negligent firearm storage or something along those lines.

  • The parent is REQUIRED to have that or any firearm locked up if a child 16 or under is in the household. It is a STATE LAW. She is in violation!
    What are you going to do Sheriff?

  • Does anyone know why ASO no longer provides resource officers for all AC public schools? More recently I’ve noticed GPD at schools in the city limits that were previously handled by ASO.

    • ASO was more expensive. The School Board although responsible for security does not pay the full cost of the deputies at the school. It has been an ongoing issue between the County and School Board. The school board always says the safety of the children is first they just don’t want to pay for it. They went with the cheaper agency where available.

      • Thanks for the reply…I didn’t realize they essentially bid it out now. Many years ago when I was a student it was always an ASO deputy, regardless of the location.

  • It’s those Michael Jackson impersonators “participating in their lives” again

  • People (parents too) who demonstrate the inability to safeguard children from firearms should not be able to own them.

  • It’s almost as if a loaded gun by itself could have been dangerous and maybe even killed someone.

  • Negligence. Fortunately no one suffered injury. I wonder if the gun owner would leave a $500 watch or other valuable item in an unattended car. Bad judgement on several levels.

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