Story last updated at 2:40 p.m. Thursday, October 3, 2002

Police, principal say teen had handgun in school

Gun-toting 14-year-old arrested

by Chris Bernard
Staff Writer

A 14-year-old Homer boy was arrested last week on weapons charges after bringing a loaded handgun to school.

Homer police received an anonymous call at 8:30 p.m. Friday about a teen "brandishing a weapon" in the parking lot of McDonald's restaurant on Lake Street.

Officers responding found a teen walking through the parking lot of the neighboring Homer District Court. Though he initially denied having a weapon, a search of his backpack revealed a loaded .357 Sig Sauer semi-automatic pistol.

The officers smelled alcohol on the teen's breath, and a test given at the scene showed his blood alcohol content to be .006 percent. The legal limit -- .08 percent -- is more than 13 times higher, but Lt. Randy Rosencrans said there is no legal limit for minors.

"It's a very small amount," he said. "It could be residual from the night before or earlier in the day, or it could mean a small amount of alcohol was ingested."

The teen did not have any alcohol in his possession and apparently was alone.

Rosencrans said the search of the teen's backpack was consentual.

"It sounds like the officers asked if they could search his backpack," he said. "In a case like this, that would be common.

"Our information is that he got the gun at home, and that it belonged to his dad," he said. "The gun was not stolen. In the course of the investigation we found out he had brought the gun to school."

Police also learned that the teen had been seen with the gun at several other locations throughout town prior to his arrest.

"We have no information that he showed the gun to anyone at school, or that he threatened anyone or had any plans to do so," Rosencrans said.

Homer Middle School Principal Glen Szymoniak said after the police reported the student's arrest, he began to investigate the matter and determined that the student had in fact brought a handgun to school.

"It's real unfortunate that this happened," he said.

Gary Whiteley, assistant superintendent with the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District, said the district is following state laws and statutes closely.

"State statute requires a one-year expulsion for bringing a gun to school," he said. "We're following that process."

Whiteley would not comment on the details of the case except to say the student was cooperating with authorities.

"We're very appreciative of the Homer Police Department," he said.

Rosencrans said the anonymous call police received Friday night was "vague" about the details of the incident.

"The teen was not waving the gun around, and he didn't threaten anybody with it," he said.

"It's my understanding that he didn't have, or give, a reason for having the gun in his possession."

The teen was charged with fourth-degree misconduct involving weapons and minor consuming alcohol, both class A misdemeanors. He was taken to the Homer Jail and released to the custody of his parents.

Charges will be forwarded to the Juvenile Probation Intake Office.

This is the second weapons-related incident in Homer schools in the past two weeks. Three McNeil Canyon Elementary School students were charged with terroristic threatening after conspiring to use guns and other weapons to take over the school.

Chris Bernard can be reached at cbernard@homernews.com.

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