On the first school day after the Newtown, Conn., shooting, an 11-year-old boy brought a gun to his Utah elementary school, apparently fearful a similar massacre could happen there, officials said Tuesday.
Granite School District spokesman Ben Horsley said the sixth-grader at West Kearns Elementary School allegedly waved a .22-caliber handgun at three students Monday during a lunch recess. The students were on a soccer field at the time, he said.
The student told police he brought the gun for protection in the wake of the Connecticut school shooting that left 20 first-graders dead, Horsley said.
“He wanted to defend himself and his friends, based on what he’s seen on the news,” Horsley said the boy told police.
Around 3 p.m., a teacher was told the student had a gun and immediately grabbed the boy, Horsley said. The handgun was found in the student’s backpack and was unloaded, he said.
The gun belonged to an extended family member that was temporarily staying at the boy's home, Horsley said. He declined to elaborate.
On Monday, teachers in the district held "age-appropriate" discussions with students regarding the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary, Horsley said. The district also asked its police officers to make themselves more visible.
“We wanted the kids to recognize that they were on site,” he said.
West Kearns Elementary is located in a southwest suburban section of Salt Lake City, about 20 miles from the Capitol.
The student was arrested on suspicion of possession of a deadly weapon on school property and aggravated assault.
“Considering the potential outcomes that could have resulted, we are very pleased this outcome occurred,” Horsley said.
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