12-year-old brings gun to school, gets in confrontation

SANTA FE (KRQE) – A 12-year-old is in custody after police say the boy got into an argument with his principal and ran towards a gun in his grandmother’s car.

The incident happened Friday morning at the Aspen Community Magnet School on La Madera in Santa Fe.

Santa Fe Police say the boy arrived at school just after 9 a.m. when he was dropped off by his grandmother. Initially, police reported that the boy had a “confrontation” with the school principal. Police say the boy pushed the principal, then ran back to his grandmother’s car in the parking lot, telling the teacher there was a gun in the car.

“The gun stayed inside the car, and from my understanding stayed in the back seat of the car, the gun is non-operational,” said Celina Westervelt, a spokeswoman for the Santa Fe Police Department.

Officers arrived on scene moments later and detained the student.

Police say the gun, a .22 caliber long-rifle, was not loaded and wouldn’t have worked because it was missing a bolt from the cocking device. They also believe the boy’s grandmother did not know the gun was inside her car. Investigators are now trying to figure out whose gun it was and how it got in the car.

Police and Santa Fe Public Schools say no one was injured during the incident.

“There was no threat to the surrounding people, and from my understanding the principal didn’t feel threatened,” said Westervelt.

The school was put on a “shelter in place” status for less than an hour while police investigated. The order was lifted by 10 a.m. and school continued as normal.

Parents received phone call, email and text alerts when the “shelter in place” command was given, however, there were no details as to why. In a letter sent home with students, staff said the school was “alerted to a weapon in the back of the car.” Many parents told News 13 that they wish they were alerted with more information as to what was going on when the incident happened.

“I really feel that they are downplaying it, they could have taken more precautions and they need to start taking more precautions,” said Mary Romero, a parent of a student at the school.

“The only reason why I found out is because another teacher here on lockdown (shelter in place) came to the elementary school where I work, she also works there, so I heard the story from here and yeah it just makes you panic,” said Nicole Jones, another parent.

Santa Fe Public Schools declined all requests for on-camera interviews on Friday. However, the district told News 13 that they gave parents as much information as possible when they sent out the alert. The district also tried to clarify police statements to the media late Friday afternoon.

In a subsequent release, Santa Fe Police said that Aspen Community School’s principal Daniel Pena reported that the student “had a meltdown” and “did not want to go to class.” Pena told police that the boy then “fled to his grandmother’s car” and that the boy told him he “had a gun in the backseat.”

Police say the student is now undergoing a mental evaluation. He could face charges of battery on school personnel and having a gun on school grounds. Police wouldn’t elaborate on that boy’s mental state, however, they did say the boy has a history of encounters with police.

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