A 14-year-old Pennfield High School student was arrested and taken to the Calhoun County Juvenile Home after a loaded handgun was found in his gym bag Friday.
Calhoun County Sheriff Matt Saxton said the student told officials he had the loaded .45 caliber semi-automatic handgun for protection from another out-of-district student who wanted to fight.
The sheriff said there is no evidence that the student with the gun intended to use it in the school against students or staff.
Saxton said the incident was reported about 8:47 a.m. when three students in the second period went into a gym locker room looking for a set of missing headphones.
He said the students looked in other gym bags including one belonging to the 14-year old and they found what they believed was an airsoft handgun. The students zipped the bag and took it to the principal's office.
Another student went to the gym teacher and Saxton said the sheriff's deputy assigned to the school as a liaison officer was notified.
The student who brought the gun was immediately taken into custody by the deputy and Saxton said the school was not placed on lockdown because officials did not believe there was any further threat.
The student told investigators that he had a dispute with another teenager who did not attend Pennfield schools.
The two teens had threatened to fight each other and the Pennfield student said he was afraid the other teen was going to come to the school at the lunch hour.
Deputies have talked to the second student who said the two had talked about fighting but that he is on home detention with a GPS monitor and could not leave home. The second student also said there was never talk of anything other than a fist fight.
Saxton said the loaded handgun belongs to the father of the 14-year-old and was taken without the father's knowledge from a locked room at their home.
"There is an ongoing investigation about how he obtained it and how long he had it," Saxton said. "He said just today because of the threat towards him."
Saxton said extra officers were at the school during the noon hour and he said the school routinely keeps outside doors locked. Students with school issued identifications are able to unlock the doors to enter. The school does not have metal detectors at the entrances.
Superintendent Tim Everett notified parents by email of the incident and said it was determined to be an isolated incident and there was no threat to the building.
Saxton said the students acted properly. "If they see something say something," he said. "They notified school personnel and the school liaison officer and within a matter of minutes it was secure. The person who brought it never pulled it out of the bag or was in possession of it after the school learned of it. He did carry it into the building but not into a classroom but only into the locker room."
Saxton said part of the investigation is to search social media and authorities have not found the 14-year-old ever made threats toward the school.
Saxton said he is not aware of any prior contact that officers have had with the student.
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