An Eastside Elementary School third-grader was arrested by Chattanooga police after a teacher found a loaded .32-caliber revolver in his desk.
“There was no intent on him hurting anyone at the school. He just had the gun with him. He wasn’t intending to shoot anybody — a teacher, or anything like that,” said Chattanooga Police Sgt. Todd Royval.
The 9-year-old student faces a misdemeanor charge of possession of a firearm on school property, Royval said.
Aside from the criminal charge, the boy will be suspended from the school through the state’s zero tolerance law. He will have a hearing before district officials scheduled in the next few weeks, said Danielle Clark, Hamilton County Department of Education spokeswoman.
The teacher told police she overheard the student tell another student to look at the gun. She then found a gun containing two live rounds in the boy’s desk just before 9:30 a.m. Tuesday, according to police.
The school at 1603 S. Lyerly St. has about 639 students, according to the Hamilton County Department of Education website.
“This is an isolated incident and has never happened before. I hope our parents and community remember that. This is a very safe school,” Eastside Elementary School Principal Emily Baker said.
When police interviewed the boy with his mother present, Royval said the mother was “very concerned,” and encouraged her son to be truthful with detectives.
The boy told authorities that he and his friends bought the gun from someone on the street.
The boy told police he shared the gun with a group of children, which Royval said did not appear to be a gang.
“It was kind of a community gun between him and his friends. And he happened to be the last one to have it and didn’t want to have it in his backpack so he stuck it in his desk,” Royval said
It’s unclear how or why the boy and his friends obtained the gun.
“We’re still going to follow up. A 9-year-old shouldn’t have a gun,” Royval said.
Royval said that, to his knowledge, a check on the gun did not show it to be stolen. The U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearm and Explosives will run the weapon through its database, he said.