A 15-year-old McKinley High School student managed to sneak a loaded .45-caliber handgun into the Elmwood Avenue school early Thursday in his backpack, according to Buffalo police.
He was arrested on a charge of criminal possession of a weapon after a teacher noticed suspicious actions as he stood beside her desk with the backpack, but his intentions for the gun are unknown, authorities said.
After the teacher left to get security, the youth left the classroom and stashed the backpack in his locker. City police already were in the school conducting a routine search of student lockers with Garo, a German shepherd member of the K-9 unit.
"The gun was apparently inside a student's book bag. Shortly before that, staff members at the school had become aware of a possible situation and notified security. The locker was searched, and the gun was discovered by Garo," said Michael J. DeGeorge, police spokesman.
The teenager's name was withheld because he is a juvenile.
Mayor Byron W. Brown praised school officials for alertness and for taking swift action.
"It's a gun that has been taken out of the hands of a young person and off the streets," the mayor said.
Police Commissioner H. McCarthy Gipson said the case reflects what's happening in other cities throughout the country.
"It's symptomatic. I hear this when I talk to other police around the country," Gipson said. He also credited school officials for taking quick action.
Philip Rumore, president of the Buffalo Teachers Federation, called for the full weight of the law to be brought down on the student.
"We expect that this student will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law to send a message to anyone else who would bring a weapon into our schools," Rumore said.
The union leader credited Principal Crystal Barton's rule banning students from bringing big bags into classrooms.
"Thanks to a principal that has strict rules relating to what can be brought into class and an alert teacher, we have a situation that could have been extremely dangerous resolved without harm to any faculty member or student," Rumore said.