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LATEST: Student roamed school briefly after loaded gun magazine found

An armed 12-year-old Jeaga Middle School student was allowed to walk around the West Palm Beach school — at least briefly — on Nov. 1 after a pistol magazine loaded with bullets was found under his desk in a classroom, according to a police report obtained by The Palm Beach Post.

The boy was also allegedly in possession of a semi-automatic handgun that he had stashed in a bathroom after the ammunition was found.

According to the police report, it took a minimum of 10 minutes for school staff members to alert a police officer patrolling on its campus, on Jog Road west of Florida’s Turnpike and north of Okeechobee Boulevard.

The boy is accused of possessing a gun on school property and was ordered to remain in home detention Thursday by a judge. He pleaded not guilty. The Post is not naming him because he is not facing charges as an adult.

The district Tuesday declined to answer questions about the incident, saying its policy was not to discuss security incidents on its campuses.

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According to the report, three students found the loaded magazine under the boy’s desk and gave it to their teacher following a fourth-period social-science class. The teacher, who has taught at 950-student Jeaga since August 2016, pocketed the ammunition and told the three students not to discuss their discovery with anyone.

The chain of events listed in the police report in not entirely clear, but it states that the boy was allowed to leave the class room and then returned. He then left the classroom again, this time with the three students who found the magazine, the report states. One of the students later told the teacher that the boy “began interrogating” the students about the ammunition.

The teacher walked to an administrative office and informed a guidance counselor of what took place. While the teacher and counselor were in the office, the boy attempted to enter, but found the door locked.

School administrators, including Principal Anthony Allen, responded to the office and were told the boy may have walked into a restroom. Allen went inside the restroom and found a black .22-caliber semi-automatic handgun in a garbage can, the report said.

A school employee who contacted The Post last week said a “code red” emergency or lockdown was never put in place despite knowledge that the boy might be armed.

According to the arrest report, the guidance counselor called administrators at 1:18 p.m. The on-campus police officer was not contacted until 1:28 p.m. The report states the boy was arrested at 2 p.m.

A spokeswoman for the School District of Palm Beach County declined to answer written questions from The Post, instead releasing the following statement: “As a rule, the School District does not discuss security procedures and protocols at schools. Dr. Allen and School Police responded quickly and appropriately when the weapon was brought to their attention.”

The handgun that the boy brought to school belongs to his mother’s live-in boyfriend, the report said. There is no indication on the report if either the boy’s mother or her boyfriend face any charges.

The boy’s mother did not allow him to answer questions from police, although the report says the 12-year-old brought the weapon with him because he feared another student wanted to attack him.

After the incident, a recorded call was made to parents from Allen assuring them: “We take these matters seriously, and our administrators acted quickly once the matter was reported to them.” The call did not offer further details on how the incident unfolded.

It was the third gun-related incident involving Palm Beach County schools in the past month, following those involving students at two high schools, Dwyer and Royal Palm Beach.

On Oct. 26, a 17-year-old student shot a 14-year-old Royal Palm Beach student following a dispute on a school bus. The 17-year-old is being held at the Juvenile Assessment Center while the State Attorney’s Office determines if he should be charged as an adult. The boy is facing charges of attempted first-degree murder, possession of a firearm during a felony and discharging a firearm in public.

In an unrelated incident on Oct. 10, a student at Dwyer, which is in Palm Beach Gardens, was arrested on a school bus for allegedly having a gun.

The 16-year-old faces a charge of a juvenile in possession of a weapon.

Have you seen them? Wanted fugitives in Palm Beach County

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