A North Medford High School student is lodged in juvenile detention after allegedly bringing a loaded handgun to school Tuesday, police said.
Medford police Officer Ernie Whiteman, who is assigned to the school, was notified by several students Tuesday that a 17-year-old boy was seen with the gun on campus.
Whiteman and school officials immediately attempted to track down the student and had him in custody within 20 minutes of the first report, Medford police Sgt. Brent Mak said.
"We act as soon as something like this is reported," Mak said. "You don't take any chances when guns are reported on school grounds."
The student, who was not identified by police, was carrying a loaded .38 caliber handgun in his front waistband.
Mak said the incident was different than other gun-related cases in schools across the country in which an armed student enters a school intending to shoot other students.
Mak said the NMHS student did not make any threats or brandish the firearm. Mak added that the case did not appear to be gang-related in any way.
"He did not have any beefs with anyone and he wasn't looking to retaliate for bullying or anything like that," Mak said. "Honestly, we don't know why he brought it to school."
The follow-up investigation revealed that the teenager had stolen the handgun earlier that morning from an unlocked vehicle in the 3900 block of South View Terrace in Medford.
Mak was disturbed that someone would leave a loaded handgun in an unsecured car. "It's all about safe gun ownership," he said. "If you legally own a gun, then you must make sure it is stored properly and not in an unlocked car."
The teen was lodged in the Jackson County juvenile detention center on charges of unlawful possession of a firearm and possession of a firearm in a public building.
In addition, he was charged with unlawful entry into a motor vehicle and first-degree theft. "The theft charge is a felony because any time you steal a gun it is automatically a felony," Mak said.
Mak said the rapport between school officials and the police department was instrumental in resolving the situation safely.
"Every component came together in this case," he said. "This is exactly how it's supposed to work."
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