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Gun is taken away from Sandy student

A Sandy middle school student who said he wanted to get his name in the news brought a handgun to school Tuesday and told other students he planned to use it to shoot up the school cafeteria.

Resource officer Jake Matthews at Union Middle School, 615 E. 8000 South, was able to thwart the student's plan after other students who knew about the 13-year-old boy's intentions voiced their concerns to school officials, said Sandy police Sgt. Kevin Thacker.Matthews found a .22 caliber handgun tucked into the waistband of the boy's pants when they pulled him out of class to talk with him, Thacker said.

The student's name has not been released by police. He was arrested and booked into the Salt Lake County Juvenile Detention Center Tuesday afternoon, Matthews said. An initial hearing was set for Wednesday morning.

Jordan School District spokeswoman Melinda Rock said the student has also been expelled, and a hearing will be held before he is allowed back in school.

Matthews said he didn't know if the boy was trying to copy a Feb. 4 incident at Syracuse Junior High School in Davis County. An eighth-grade student there fired a gun into the cafeteria ceiling and then briefly held two fellow students hostage before being subdued by police.

"About the copycat thing, I don't know. We didn't mention (Davis County) to him. But he mentioned it to us," Matthews said. "I don't think his intentions were to hurt anybody. I just don't think he was thinking."

The boy has no prior criminal history; however, through their investigation officers learned that as a sixth-grader at Canyon View Elementary School, the boy brought an explosive device to school, Thacker said. He said there was no record of the incident in the juvenile court files and that school administration may have just dealt with the incident on its own.

Thacker said it probably isn't unusual for kids to copycat the actions of other youths who get in trouble.

"But it's a little concerning that he wanted to do this just to get on TV," Thacker said.

Sandy police officers have been serving the Jordan School District as resource officers for the past three years. Matthews, who is also the resource officer for two other middle schools and Valley High, is at Union Middle School about two days each week.

He believes that weekly contact with students helps develop a trust-ing relationship that made a difference Tuesday.

"It definitely made a difference in controlling the situation. (The students) came up to me right," Matthews said. "This could have been bad. There could have been injuries."

The resource officer program, along with an active safe schools committee, drive the message home to students that they have a role in protecting themselves and other students, she said.