GAINESVILLE, Fla. (WFLA) — A loaded handgun was found in a first grader’s backpack on Wednesday in what a Florida sheriff’s office called “a terrible accident.”
A teacher at Meadowbrook Elementary School in Gainesville found the gun at around 1 p.m. School resource deputies confirmed the weapon was loaded and “made it safe” before taking it off campus, according to a Facebook post from the Alachua County Sheriff’s Office.
Deputies learned the teacher asked the student to start bringing a backpack to class so they could send materials home with them. The child “has not brought any type of backpack to school in months,” the sheriff’s office wrote.
The child’s mother asked them to take the backpack – which deputies described as “old and tattered” – from the trunk of her car. The gun belonged to her, but she told deputies she did not know it was inside the backpack at the time.
The mother told deputies a family member recently borrowed the car and was uncomfortable with the gun being inside the car. The family member moved the gun from its usual spot in the glove compartment to a pocket inside of the backpack. They told deputies they didn’t believe the bag belonged to the student.
“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,” the sheriff’s office wrote.
After consulting the State Attorney’s Office, deputies determined no criminal charges would be filed against the mother or the family member who placed the gun in the backpack. The sheriff’s office said the Department of Children and Family Services was notified about the incident.