Loaded gun found in Anchorage elementary student's backpack, police say

Published: Feb. 15, 2019 at 9:22 AM AKST
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A handgun was found inside the backpack of an Anchorage elementary school student, according to Anchorage police.

The gun was located at Rogers Park Elementary School at around 9 a.m. on Feb. 14, according to APD.

APD spokesperson Kendra Doshier said Friday that the handgun was loaded with a full magazine, but no round was in the chamber. After its discovery, Doshier said the gun was turned over to APD and seized as evidence.

The superintendent of Anchorage Schools, Dr. Deena Bishop says a teacher discovered the gun inside a student's backpack while she was looking for some school paperwork.

"It's a good ending, but a child as young as this, we should all be concerned," Dr. Bishop said.

The case is under investigation, according to APD. Doshier said no one was injured.

An email sent to Rogers Park families by school principal Nuri Johnsen only stated a "weapon" was found in a backpack, and did not specify that it was a gun.

Johnsen also wrote in the Thursday email that "at no time were students or staff in danger," despite the fact that APD confirmed that the gun was loaded.

One parent whose daughter is a 5th grader at the school says it was reckless for the child to have ever had access to the gun.

"There's always that risk," Moira Smith said, "it's an extraordinarily violent and dangerous tool that shouldn't be allowed near an elementary school."

Catherine Esary, spokesperson for the Anchorage School District, said that as soon as the gun was found police were called.

"In this case there was a weapon located, it was not allowed, and staff reported it to the principal," Esary said Friday. "From there, the principal reported it to the SRO, which is APD."

"The principal followed procedure, we have procedures for these kinds of circumstances, and they're in place to keep students, staff, and schools safe," Esary said. "Safety is always the priority."

While Esary initially did not comment on what disciplinary action, if any, was taken on the student in this specific case, she later issued an email after KTUU published this report.

"At approximately 10:30 a.m. this morning, APD released details to local media. According to APD, the weapon found was a loaded handgun with a full magazine and no round in the chamber," Esary said in the email. "As we work with minors, we cannot disclose personally identifiable information, but the District has taken appropriate disciplinary action."

The section on Weapons and Firearms in the ASD student handbook outlines disciplinary practice.

"Students possessing weapons are subject to disciplinary action up to and including expulsion," ASD states in the handbook. "Students possessing guns on school grounds will be recommended for expulsion."

Smith says she's going to speak with her daughter Friday night about the situation at the school.

"The whole idea that it could happen in her school is really scary," Smith said.

This story has been updated with additional information released by ASD after this story was first published.