A Twin Cities high school student toted a handgun in his backpack and went about his day attending classes only to be caught a few hours later in a car with the stolen weapon loaded, according to authorities.
Joshua Z. Bernard Jr., 18, of Maple Grove was charged Friday in Hennepin County District Court with possessing a dangerous weapon on school property and theft of a firearm. Both are felonies.
Bernard, who attends Osseo Area Learning Center alternative school in Brooklyn Park, remains jailed in lieu of $20,000 bail ahead of a court appearance Monday afternoon.
Osseo School District spokeswoman Barb Olson said learning center staff members were informed during the school day Friday of the criminal investigation. Students' families have also been notified about the gun being in the building.
Olson didn't say whether the district has disciplined Bernard, but she added there are a "range of consequences" for him based on "the seriousness of any situation — and we find this to be an extremely serious situation."
One month earlier, district officials testified before the Minnesota Legislature about changes to school safety and gun laws. The hearing came in the wake of the Feb. 14 shooting at a Florida high school that left 17 dead.
Patricia Magnuson, Osseo schools' finance and operations director, said the district has about $600,000 to begin upgrading security cameras at five of its 32 buildings in 2019.
Its overall $16 million plan to tighten security would cover "hardened" front entrances at three high schools and the Osseo Area Learning Center, improved front entrances at four middle schools and 17 elementary schools and other buildings, digital cameras, a digital visitor management system and other projects including a system that would allow staff to lock interior doors from inside and outside rooms.
The plan does not call for the installation of metal detectors, Olson said Monday.
According to the criminal complaint against Bernard:
Police spotted a driver committing several traffic violations in Brooklyn Center near Interstate 694 and Shingle Creek Parkway. Officers pulled over the car and smelled marijuana inside.
Officers searched the car and located a backpack in the back seat that belonged to Bernard, who was in the front passenger seat.
Inside the backpack was a Glock 9-millimeter handgun "with several rounds loaded into the magazine," along with several loose rounds, the complaint read. Officers also located marijuana in Bernard's possession. Police said they have yet to determine whether the gun was loaded while in the school.
Bernard told police that he attended school from 8:50 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. and "knowingly possessed the backpack and handgun" while in the building at 7300 Boone Av. N.
He first said a friend gave him the gun for protection but then acknowledged stealing it about a week earlier from the center console of an unlocked vehicle parked in a driveway of a Brooklyn Park home in the 6300 block of Tessman Terrace.