HUDSON, Fla. (WFLA) – Pasco County deputies say “see something, say something” paid off on Thursday when an elementary school student came forward to report that another boy had a gun.
The sheriff’s office says a loaded handgun was found in the 8-year-old’s backpack at Hudson Elementary. No one was injured.
“We as a community are very fortunate…that everybody did their jobs at Hudson Elementary,” said Captain Chris Beaman with the Pasco Sheriff’s Office. “Our school safety guard did what he was supposed to do. Our school administration did what they were supposed to do. And another little person, likely 8 years old, did what they were supposed to do.”
Beaman says the school’s security guard saw a group of young boys gathered in a bathroom around 1 p.m. Thursday. When he went to shoo them away back to their classroom, Beaman says one little boy stayed back and informed the guard that one of the other boys had a gun in his backpack.
The guard immediately went to the other boy’s classroom to bring him and his backpack to the principal’s office. When the backpack was searched, deputies say a loaded 9mm Sig Sauer handgun was found inside.
“See something, say something paid off today and we’re very fortunate,” Beaman said.
School administrators contacted the sheriff’s office, who responded and opened an investigation.
“It frustrates me as a law enforcement officer – who started this profession to protect – to even think of a possibility of what could have happened in this situation,” Beaman said.
Deputies say they are still investigating but believe the gun came from the boy’s home. They’re in the process of speaking with his parents.
“We obviously want to know why, how this child got access to this firearm and things of that nature,” Beaman said when asked if any criminal charges would be filed. “Any time a law enforcement officer is doing an investigation, it’s usually criminal in nature. Not to suggest there’s definitely going to be charges, but we’re going to work with the state attorney’s office.”
During his news conference, Beaman also took the time to remind parents about the importance of gun safety and properly locking firearms away.
“Sometimes parents, they may not even think the child knows where the gun is but we all know oftentimes, children do snoop around their parents’ belongings,” he said. “Gun locks, gun safes are a must with young children.”
Captain Beaman says deputies are working to identify and speak with all the students who were in the bathroom with the boy. They want to figure out what the other students saw and what they were told about why the boy had the gun.
A representative for Pasco County schools also spoke during the news conference. She said that while she couldn’t speak specifically about a student’s discipline, the district’s discipline matrix calls for an automatic 10-day suspension, recommendation for expulsion and referral to law enforcement in these kinds of situations.
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