Boy, 9, charged with felonies over gun in backpack

The Pinal County Attorney’s Office has filed two felony charges against a 9-year-old boy who brought a gun and loaded ammunition clip onto the campus of a Queen Creek Charter school.

The unidentified youngster was charged with minor possessing a firearm and interference of disruption of an educational institution.

The County Attorney’s office said the charges came “after careful consideration of the facts and evidence” – though Queen Creek Police also had recommended those charges.

The statement went on to say that the boy’s parents, identified by police as Briana Juarez and Keith Martinez, will not face any charges, nor are they likely to.

“There is no reasonable likelihood of conviction against the juvenile’s parents for any crime.” Pinal County Attorney Kent Volkmer wrote.

He added, “Given the inherent danger involved with a gun being on a school campus, PCAO must take this seriously. However, it is important to appreciate that the juvenile justice system is focused on rehabilitation and correcting behavior and that will be our focus.”

The student brought the gun and ammunition clip to Legacy Traditional School in a backpack and showed a single bullet to a fellow student, who then alerted their parents.

Those parents notified Legacy officials, who waited for the child to arrive at school the next day. At that point, they ushered the juvenile offender to a secure location, searched his backpack, seized the weapon and called police who and launched an investigation.

“QCPD commends the student who saw something suspicious at school the day before the incident and informed an adult,” Queen Creek Police Chief Randy Brice wrote when the incident became public.

“We encourage all caregivers to teach their children to say something if they see something,” Brice wrote. “QCPD also urges all caregivers with firearms in their homes to secure them in a way that no child in the house will be able to obtain access to the firearm.”

Legacy promptly placed school Principal Megan Alvarado on administrative leave after the incident occurred. She was reinstated following the police investigation after undergoing additional safety training.

“Prior to returning from administrative leave, Principal Alvarado completed additional school safety and security training, and is currently working as part of a school safety team that will regularly review security procedures and emergency response,” a Legacy statement said.

“This incident was an opportunity for Legacy - Queen Creek to further improve its safety and communication protocol,” the statement read.

Legacy officials say that Alvarado and Legacy administrators now have the ongoing responsibility of providing teachers and staff members with

updates and ongoing training on

security protocols to ensure they all understand measures in place to keep the school safe.

According to the Queen Creek Police Department’s investigation, the student who brought the weapon told detectives during an interview that “he carried the firearm for self-protection ‘from a potential abduction’ as he traveled to and from school by himself.”

Detectives found no evidence that

the boy had any plans to use the weapon, collaborate with others or any

specific motives to harm anyone with the firearm.

Town police said at the time of the incident, “In addition to protecting the community, the Juvenile Court System has the mission of nurturing positive change in the child.”

The Legacy Schools’ website says possessing a weapon on campus could lead to expulsion “even for a first offense.”