Status of preschool student who brought gun to school unknown

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The Moffat County Sheriff's Office has closed its investigation into an incident in which a five-year-old boy brought a handgun to his preschool class Friday.

The department has already reported the incident to the District Attorney's office, which has indicated it will not pursue the matter criminally, said K.C. Hume, Moffat County Sheriff's chief investigator.

"There was no malicious intent here," Hume said.

Craig police initially responded to the scene just after classes had started at 9 a.m. Friday at the Moffat County Early Childhood Coalition, which is attached to the school district's Yampa Avenue administration building.

School officials said the boy told a peer he had brought a handgun to class that morning -- information passed on by the peer to a teacher's aide.

A loaded .357 Ruger handgun was found in the boy's backpack, according to police.

Sarah Hepworth, the preschool's director, referred comment on the incident to Moffat County school administration.

The boy was sent home with parents Friday, and could return as early as today, according to Joel Sheridan, assistant superintendent.

But the boy's status at the school was uncertain Monday. The preschool meets Tuesday through Friday.

"We're waiting to hear back from the sheriff's office to see what else we should know (about the incident)," Sheridan said.

Teachers had not asked students to bring anything specific to class as part of lesson that day, Sheridan said.

Hume said follow-up interviews indicated the boy was "curious" after finding the weapon and wanted to show it to classmates. No threats or violent intent are suspected in the case.

The boy found the handgun under the seat of his father's truck, he said. The man had used the weapon the previous weekend for target practice shooting.

"He forgot that it was there," Hume said.

Bill Leonard, administrative Craig police sergeant, said the case was turned over to the sheriff's department because the boy's parents reside outside city limits.

Hume, meanwhile, said the family does have a locked gun safe at their home.

Firearms should be stored in such safes or gun cabinets, which have a key or combination lock, Hume said. He suggests that ammunition be stored separate from the weapon.

Paul Shockley can be reached at 824-7031 or at pshockley@craigdailypress.com.

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