A Mesa High School student who said he had been threatened by gang members off-campus could be expelled after bringing a loaded gun to school on Tuesday.
Mesa police spokesman Ed Wessing said in a press release that the student has been referred to juvenile court for one count of under age 18 carrying a firearm, a felony, and one count of carrying a weapon on school grounds, a misdemeanor. No charges have been filed.
The student told police he took the firearm from a family member without permission to protect himself, Wessing told the Tribune. The boy said that two weeks ago he was threatened by people he believed to be gang members while walking around Stapley Drive and Eighth Avenue. He did not report it to police at the time.
The boy told police he had the gun at his house, but on Tuesday, he went home for lunch to find his mother and grandmother cleaning. He told police he brought the gun to school because he did not want them to find it.
"He said he did not feel threatened at school," Wessing said. "It was not school-related."
Kathy Bareiss, spokeswoman for the Mesa Unified School District, said the student did not threaten anyone.
Another student reported that the student, a senior, had a gun in a backpack. A school resource officer, who is with the Mesa Police Department, then found the weapon after confronting the student.
Bareiss said the typical disciplinary action for such an incident is expulsion, which would have to be reviewed by the district's governing board.
The student was not at school on Wednesday, Bareiss said.
Mesa High principal Jim Souder and an assistant superintendent are working on the student's due process as required by board policy and law, Bareiss said.
Souder notified Mesa parents of the incident through the district's phone notification system.
"This situation is rare at Mesa High and we take it very seriously," Souder said. "Bringing a weapon to school violates both district policy and the state law. This will result in school disciplinary action for any student involved and may also involve criminal charges."
Souder added that Mesa High has "an excellent emergency plan in place and we followed those procedures today."
He asked that parents remind their children to report "any inappropriate behavior immediately to a teacher or other trusted adult. This helps us to respond quickly to situations that present a safety concern."
Bareiss said in her seven years with the Mesa district there have been "maybe three" cases of a gun being brought to a school and all were reported by fellow students. The last incident was in 2007.
"It also was a loaded gun, at Skyline High," she said in an e-mail. "This is a very rare happening."