Loaded gun found in student’s backpack at Austin ISD middle school Wednesday

Austin

AUSTIN (KXAN) — The Austin Independent School District Police are still investigating a student bringing a loaded gun to campus Wednesday.

In a letter to parents, Austin ISD confirmed a student brought the gun to Mendez Middle School.

AISD said around 1 p.m., a student there said another student had a gun, and school resource officers found it in the student’s backpack.

The letter, sent by Mendez Middle Director Joanna Rowley, said the officers “immediately detained” the student. It added the student didn’t threaten anyone with the gun. The incident was “resolved quickly and did not affect the school day.”

AISD said it can’t comment on student disciplinary issues but referred KXAN to the district’s student code of conduct. The code says bringing a firearm to campus is grounds for mandatory expulsion.

“I held my son tight. I had to talk with him about if there was a school shooter, which I never thought I’d have to do in middle school,” parent Nadia Mugica said.

Mugica’s son is only 11 years old.

“He was teary eyed, I was teary eyed. It was very emotional thing,” Mugica said.

Though AISD said it confiscated the gun quickly, Mugica said she wishes the district would’ve notified parents sooner than a few hours after it was found.

“Something like a little message like, ‘hey, this is going on. If you feel like your student is not safe, you can come pick your student up,'” Mugica said.

According to AISD, it notified parents as soon as possible, as police worked to get the situation under control.

“We feel pressure, I feel pressure, the chief feels pressure to ensure that our campuses are safe,” Lt. Travis Pickford of the Uniformed Services Bureau for AISD PD said. “What we want to happen every day is for kids to come to school and only have to focus on their education and nothing else.”

But that’s not the reality. Pickford said the majority of reports of weapons on campus come through the “see something, say something” method.

“All of that trust was built up through the relationships and the work that our officers do on their campuses every day,” Pickford said.

KXAN Reporter Jala Washington asked, “Would you say that’s enough? Del Valle ISD now has a clear backpack policy; you hear about metal detectors.”

Pickford said they’re open to having discussion about implementing more safety protocols.

“Stuff like that would not be implemented without a lot of input from our community,” Pickford said.

Mugica is happy things at Mendez didn’t escalate but still doesn’t have complete peace of mind.

“Obviously what they’re doing is not working if a kid can walk into campus, go almost the whole day with a loaded gun in his backpack,” Mugica said.

KXAN asked how many weapons AISD has confiscated on its campuses in recent years, but that information wasn’t readily available.

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