POCATELLO — A local high school student was arrested late Sunday morning after he reportedly brought a stolen pistol onto a school bus Friday and was showing it off to several students, according to the Pocatello Police Department.
The male student is currently incarcerated at the 6th District Juvenile Detention Center in Pocatello and will likely face misdemeanor charges of illegally possessing a firearm or possessing a firearm on school property, as well as a felony grand theft charge, police said.
Police would not release the student’s age or specify which School District 25 school he attended. Police also do not release names of minors as a matter of policy.
Though the Pocatello Police Department and Pocatello/Chubbuck School District 25 released press statements about the incident Monday afternoon, any threat to public safety was resolved within hours of the initial report on Friday, police said. In addition to its press statement, School District 25 also sent a letter to all parents or guardians Monday informing them of the incident.
Police said the student described ways in which he considered using the gun but made no specific threats. Police would not comment on how the student came into possession of the stolen firearm, whether it was loaded or who owned the weapon.
The incident began to unfold after school was released for the day around 4:30 p.m. Friday when the Pocatello Police Department received the report that a student was in possession of a firearm while riding a school bus, police said. Students on the bus who saw the gun felt unsafe and reported the incident to school administrators, who promptly notified the authorities, police said.
The student who allegedly possessed the gun on the bus had already reached his stop and exited the bus by the time authorities located the bus in question, police said.
However, Pocatello police officers were able to identify the student based on eyewitness reports and a review of video footage from the bus, according to School District 25.
At approximately 7 p.m. Friday, officers located the handgun inside a Pocatello residence, said police, adding that the male student was not located at the residence with the gun. Police would not provide additional details regarding the recovery of the pistol.
After recovering the pistol, police secured a detention order for the male student and issued an alert to all nearby law enforcement agencies to look for the student, police said.
Police made contact with the student’s mother and informed her to call police if she were to come into contact with her son, police said. On Saturday, the mother apparently located her son and transported him to the 6th District Juvenile Detention Center.
But upon arriving to the center, the male student fled on foot from the facility parking lot, police said.
Police searched the area near the Juvenile Detention Center on Saturday but were unable to locate the male student.
Around 11:20 a.m. Sunday, officers with the Fort Hall Police Department located the male student on the Fort Hall Indian Reservation and a Pocatello police officer was dispatched to take the student into custody.
The student was subsequently arrested and transported to the Juvenile Detention Center where he remains incarcerated.
Police said the investigation into the incident remains open and ongoing. Pocatello Police Chief Roger Schei on Monday commended the students who came forward to report the incident to school administrators.
“We thank the students who contacted school officials about the threat,” Schei said. “The police department takes all complaints of threats to the community very seriously and we acted immediately to investigate and ensure the safety of the students.”
The Pocatello Police Department also encourages gun owners to safely secure their firearms. Free gun locks are available for pickup at the Pocatello Police Department, police said.
School District 25 said in its letter to parents that in addition to any criminal charges, the student will face serious disciplinary action at the school district level. School District 25 policy states that any student who brings a weapon to school is subject to expulsion hearings.
“Ensuring the safety of all students is our highest priority,” School District 25 Superintendent Doug Howell said in the letter to parents. “We strive for open communication as we work in partnership with parents, students and our local law enforcement. Providing a safe and secure learning environment is a top priority for (School District 25) and we take any violations of our policy very seriously. Security measures and protocols are in place to help us maintain safe school communities across our school district."
Howell continued, “I want to thank those parents and students who provided us with the information necessary to investigate and bring closure to this incident. Please continue to encourage your child to let a teacher or administrator know if a situation exists that could ever place him or her or others in danger. Please remind your child: ‘If you see something, say something.’”
The maximum charge for a misdemeanor is up to six months in jail and up to $1,000 in fines. If convicted of the felony grand theft charge, the male student faces up to 20 years in prison and up to $10,000 in fines.