St. Paul police arrested a 16-year-old student at Como Park High School Wednesday morning after finding a loaded handgun in his waistband.
Police spokesman Steve Linders said there was no known threat made by the student, and that it’s unclear why he had the 9mm gun. The student was arrested shortly after 8 a.m.
The school did not go into lockdown, and students were not evacuated, said Toya Stewart Downey, interim director of communications for St. Paul Public Schools.
An automated call about the incident was made to families at 11:30 a.m., a letter was sent out at 12:45 p.m. and information was posted on the school website, she said.
“I’m sorry to share with you that a student was found to be in possession of a loaded handgun,” Principal Theresa Neal wrote in the letter sent to families. “There were no threats made to students or staff. Staff responded immediately and followed our school safety plan. The Saint Paul Police Department also responded and quickly confiscated the weapon without incident. The student was taken into police custody … We will not tolerate any behavior that puts our school at risk. There are consequences for students in situations like this and we will follow our standard discipline procedures as outlined in the Student Rights and Responsibilities Handbook.”
According to police: Shortly after 8 a.m., a school staffer told the school resource officer (SRO) that a student was believed to be in possession of a gun. The SRO called for more officers and was assisted by a second officer.
The two officers went to the student’s classroom, had him step out into the hallway and searched him. Police found the gun in his waistband and arrested him for possession of a firearm by a minor and possession of a firearm on school grounds.
It’s unclear what verbal exchanges the officers had with the student before the gun was discovered, Linders said.
No other students witnessed the search, and the school day continued as usual, he said.
“Our officers took care to conduct an investigation with a minimal amount of disruption,” Linders said. “This is an example of the important role SROs play in our schools.”
Police are investigating where and how the student came to possess the gun. Linders said he had no information about the student’s prior behavior at the school or whether anything had occurred in the days or months leading up to the arrest.
The incident comes on the heels of the Parkland, Fla., school shooting that killed 17 people and mobilized students across the country to advocate for tougher gun control laws. Earlier this month, a 13-year-old Vadnais Heights boy was arrested for allegedly threatening to shoot a classmate. The threat led to a search of the boy’s home, which yielded dozens of firearms and the arrest and charging of his parents.