A student thought to be skipping class was found to be armed and heading back to school to confront a bully, San Diego police said Monday.
According to police, a 15-year-old Serra High School student was found with an unloaded handgun in his backpack. He told the officer he was planning to confront a bully.
The incident happened last Wednesday morning.
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Lt. Steve Behrendt said a police officer was on a truancy sweep when he stopped the teenager just a few blocks from the high school. The teen said he had been bullied for several weeks and felt he needed protection.
“The previous day the kid that had been bullying him said some things that made him think his life was in danger,” Behrendt said.
Police said the student admitted to stealing the gun from a secured box belonging to his uncle and then stashing the weapon in a canyon near the high school. He said he went to school, was bullied again and then cut class to retrieve the weapon. Police said it was a 1911 military-grade .45 caliber sidearm.
NBC 7 learned the teen first went to De Portola Middle School nearby to speak to a former teacher, who was unaware of the weapon. When he left to go back to the high school, Behrendt said the officer stopped him.
“It was a close call. Had he pulled out the gun in campus, there's no telling what could've happened,” he said.
NBC 7 spoke to numerous students at Serra High who said they knew the teen was going through a tough time.
One student whose parent did not want him identified said, “He had a hard life. His dad died last year and he was living with his uncle.”
Police confirmed the teen lost his father and that the gun belonged to his dad, but his uncle was keeping it for the time being. Many students said although they felt bad for their peer, this incident was scary.
“I think it's a miracle that he got caught,” one student said. “It's kind of scary to think. He's in my class. He could've had it right next to me.”
According to Lt. Behrendt, the teen faces possible prosecution on a count of possessing a firearm on a school campus because he stopped at De Portola Middle School.