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Toy-gun incident in Am.F. leads to arrest of student

AMERICAN FORK — School officials and police took quick action Monday against a 17-year-old student who took a toy handgun to American Fork High School.

Just before lunch hour Monday, school officials called police after a handful of students reported seeing a fellow student showing off the butt of a gun tucked into his pants. He was allegedly telling others that he planned to use the gun against a rival gang member.

School officials conducted a quick search for the teen and the intended victim but were unable to locate them in the school. About 3 p.m. the teen was found by police at American Fork Junior High School, allegedly intoxicated and being disorderly.

The teen told police that the gun was not real and that it could be located in some bushes near his home. Police retrieved the toy gun, arrested the teen and transported him to the Slate Canyon Juvenile Detention Center in Provo. Police say the toy gun looked very realistic and could easily have been mistaken for a .9mm-caliber revolver.

Alpine School District spokesman Michael Robinson said according to district policy the student has been suspended for a minimum of 10 days. The policy says possessing a weapon or "look-alike" weapon on school property are grounds for suspension.

"We take this very seriously. While it was not an actual weapon, it still can cause harm because of the potential to draw fire or intimidate other students," Robinson said.

The student will be allowed a hearing before a district committee to determine his final punishment. The committee will then recommend to the Alpine School Board the length of the suspension or whether the suspension should be converted to expulsion.

The federal Gun Free Schools Act requires a one-year suspension for students taking guns to school. However, the act has no provisions for a look-alike gun. District officials say school administrators acted properly by contacting police and taking the student reports seriously.

"The school responded professionally and efficiently," Robinson said.

The American Fork High School incident happened about the same time that a student was opening fire on fellow students at high school near San Diego. The 15-year-old Santee, Calif. gunman killed two students and injured 15 others.


E-mail: jimr@desnews.com