Police: 12-year-old girl brings loaded handgun to Tooele school, twice

Nov 3, 2021, 7:52 PM | Updated: Nov 4, 2021, 11:32 am

TOOELE, Utah – A 12-year-old girl brought a loaded handgun to her junior high school on two different days, according to the Tooele City Police Department.

“When we questioned the girl about it she said she felt she needed it for protection,” said Lt. Jeremy Hansen. “When we pressed her harder she didn’t want to elaborate, so we don’t think that she had any ill intent in bringing that gun to school at all.”

The girl showed the gun to a friend last Thursday on the way home from Clarke N. Johnsen Junior High School, Hansen said. The friend told her mom about the gun.

There was no school on Friday, so the mother waited until first thing Monday morning to tell the school’s principal who discovered the girl still had the gun in her backpack while at school.

“She didn’t threaten anybody,” Hansen went on to say. “She wasn’t having problems with anybody that we were made aware of.”

The girl’s parents said the gun was normally stored on a top shelf in their closet, Hansen said.

“The mother was in shock, the father was in shock that this had even occurred,” Hansen said, adding that they would like to remind parents to lock up their firearms.

Hansen said the girl has been referred to juvenile court for being in possession of the gun on school premises and for being a minor in possession of a gun. The school district could also take disciplinary action.

“We do not believe there was any intent to harm,” said Marie Denson, spokesperson for the Tooele County School District. “Unfortunately, I don’t think that this student understood the magnitude of this situation and consequences that are involved with that.”

Denson said the district has tried to create an environment of “see something, say something” in their schools in conjunction with the SafeUT app. In this case, the district is glad the student and parent came forward and alerted the principal.

Denson said they receive daily tips from the SafeUT app, which saw a surge in utilization at the start of the pandemic.

“Because of these reports we’ve been able to handle these situations that maybe could have ended much differently,” Denson said.

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Police: 12-year-old girl brings loaded handgun to Tooele school, twice