Police: Highlands student arrested for having loaded, stolen gun
A Highlands High School student is facing charges after officials say they discovered a loaded gun in his backpack after school Wednesday.
Harrison police Sgt. Justin Bouch said police responded to the high school about 3 p.m. when school staff said they had seen a student leave the school, place something in his backpack and then re-enter through a side door.
When school staff stopped him to ask what was in the bag, he ran away, dropping his bag outside the school.
“Inside the backpack, there was a gun,” Bouch said.
Bouch said the .40-caliber handgun was stolen.
It didn’t have a bullet in the chamber, but the magazine was loaded.
He said it doesn’t appear the student planned to use the gun at school.
“The gun was not in the school all day long,” he said. “It was outside.”
Bouch said the incident took place on school property, but the student was gone by the time police arrived.
He said the student hid the gun outside during the school day and only re-entered the school with it in the backpack because he was going to catch his bus.
Police arrested the 15-year-old boy at his home in Harrison about 5:30 p.m. without incident.
The student faces charges of possession of a weapon on school property, prohibited offensive weapons, receiving stolen property, person not to possess a firearm and possession of firearm by a minor.
Bouch said the student was transferred to Shuman Juvenile Detention Center in Pittsburgh late Wednesday.
Bouch said the boy didn’t have a criminal record.
He said officers searched the high school and said it was safe Wednesday evening.
The district notified parents with an automated message shortly after school let out alerting them that an incident had occurred, but offered no details. There was no information about the incident on the district’s website or Facebook page late Wednesday.
District Superintendent Michael Bjalobok said the district plans to release an official statement on the incident today.
Several people posted on Facebook on Wednesday asking what happened and expressing concern that more information wasn’t put out by the district.
Bjalobok said more information wasn’t released because officials were still waiting to confirm details of the incident and working with police.
Bjalobok said he couldn’t confirm Wednesday what grade the student is in.
He said all extracurricular activities were canceled Wednesday evening as a precaution, but all events should be held as scheduled today.
Bjalobok said the district will be modifying its dismissal procedures today.
“I think we’re just going to redirect where the students exit the building,” he said.
He hoped to have students leaving through only one or two doors, rather than multiple doors, as is usually the case.
Emily Balser is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach her at 724-226-4680 or email@example.com.