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Gun found at elementary school Friday was loaded

11-year-old boy arrested

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A gun found last Friday at Sadie Tillis Elementary School had five rounds in the magazine, but none in the chamber, according to a Duval County school police report.  School officials had told parents and News4Jax on Friday that the gun was not loaded.

Late Wednesday afternoon, News4Jax learned the boy who was arrested for the incident is 11 years old. His name is not being used because of his age.

Police said a tip from a student about a possible BB gun in a student's backpack led officials to the .25-caliber Raven semi-automatic pistol.  School officials said no evacuation or lockdown was needed because there was never any danger to students.

News4Jax crime and safety analyst Gil Smith, a former school resource officer, said the decision to evacuate or lock down the school is one made based on the student, classroom setting and other factors.

"The teacher understands the kids very well and knows how they are going to behave, how they interact. So you know that's pretty much up to the discretion of the police officer (after consulting the teacher)," Smith said. 

Parents, like Gloria Desha, said they got a phone call from the school about the incident but don't consider that enough. 

"It didn't say anything about what kind of weapon and it sure as heck didn't say that it was a loaded gun," Desha said.

Many parents are sharing the same reaction after learning more about the gun brought to their children's school.

"It kind of makes me wonder about the school and the safety of the kids," parent Demetrias Fairley said.

Some parents have said that the situation is even worse because police said the gun, which district officials had said was unloaded, actually had bullets in its magazine.

"I feel like the parents should have been better informed of what happened because I just feel like we were lied to," Desha said.

The school district responded to those concerns in a statement, saying:

"On the day of the incident, the district's statement was based on the initial information gathered that the gun was not loaded as defined by bullets in the chamber. Instead, bullets were in a magazine as noted in the police report."

According to the police report, officers found five live rounds in the magazine and none in the chamber of the hand gun.

Employees told the assistant principal they heard from several students that another student had a BB gun. The assistant principal said she originally thought it was a BB gun too, but called police after feeling how heavy it was and realizing it was a real gun.

"(I'm) a little concerned because obviously, if it was a loaded weapon, then the kids were in danger. Regardless of whether or not it was in a backpack or anything else because if a child has a loaded weapon at school at any time, he could take it out and use it," Desha said. 

School police confiscated the gun and arrested the student, whose age, gender and grade level are not being released.

The report said the unregistered gun was not stolen, but does not say where the student got it. 

School officials said Friday that charges against the student's parents were likely, but has provided no other information.

Smith said the fact that the gun was loaded could change potential charges the student's parents could face.

"Maybe the weapon was unloaded when the child left home and (he) could have loaded the weapon later, gotten ammunition somewhere else, all that is unknown at this point. But if the weapon was loaded when he removed it from the house, then the parents could be charged," Smith said. 

According to News4Jax records, it was the first gun found at a Duval County school since May.