Seventh-grader caught with gun, knife at Mesa school

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By Catherine Holland By Catherine Holland

MESA, Ariz. -- For the second time this month, a Mesa student has been caught with a handgun at school.

According to police, the 12-year-old seventh-grader at Mesa's Smith Junior High, which is near Crismon and Adobe roads, brought a small-caliber handgun and a pocket knife to school Wednesday.

Investigators said the boy told them the weapons were for protection. He said somebody had slipped a threatening note into his backpack last week. That note, which the boy says he threw away, supposedly said somebody was going to kill him. He said he had no idea who might have put the note in his backpack.

It's not clear how school authorities discovered that the boy was armed, but security personnel took the gun and knife away without incident.

The boy, who was released to his parents and will reportedly undergo a behavioral-health evaluation, told police he took the gun from his grandfather's house over the weekend.

The 12-year-old also told authorities he does not have any enemies that he knows of and has not had any issues with bullying or fighting. There are also reports, however, that the boy has made statements about killing himself.

It's not clear yet if the boy will face charges for carrying a gun on school grounds. The case has been turned over to the Maricopa County Juvenile Court system.

This is the second time this month that a Mesa child has been caught with a gun on school property.

On Jan. 6, an 8-year-old student at Franklin Northeast Elementary School was found to have to gun in his backpack. That gun went off while the child was on a school bus heading home for the day. There were about 30 kids on board at the time. Nobody was injured.