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KEARNS — An 11-year-old boy who brought a gun to a West Kearns Elementary School Monday is facing criminal charges after allegedly threatening a classmate.
Granite School District administrators said the sixth-grader packed the .22 caliber handgun, along with ammunition, in his backpack and brought it to class.
The boy told administrators he did it to protect himself in case a school shooting similar to the massacre in Newtown, Conn., happened in Utah. But classmate Isabelle Rios said that's not how he used the weapon.
I told him I was going to tell, but he said, 'If you tell, I'm going to kill you.'
–Isabelle Rios, student
"He pulled out a gun and he put it to my head — me and my friend — (and) said he was going to kills us," Isabelle said. "I told him I was going to tell, but he said, ‘If you tell, I'm going to kill you.'"
Isabelle said it happened during morning recess, but she didn't alert her teacher until around 3:00 in the afternoon.
Upon learning the information the teacher acted quickly, disarming the student in a matter of seconds, and took him to the school's office. Police officers were called and arrived within minutes.
"This teacher in particular put herself with this student and took him into physical custody to ensure that he was not able to use that weapon to harm anybody," said Ben Horsley, spokesman for the Granite School District.
The gun was found in the boy's backpack, Horsley said. There was ammunition there too, but the gun was not loaded when the teacher found it.
Family members of students remained at West Kearns Elementary throughout the evening as they were briefed about the situation.
"I'm taking my kids out of school. They ain't coming back here," said Mandee Doyle, whose children attend the school.
"Now that I'm thinking about it, it's kind of sad how easy it is to get in and out of school, and something needs to be done," said John Klaus, whose nieces and nephews attend the school.
Horsley said the school district will investigate and pursue criminal charges against the 11-year-old. The extent of what those charges might be won't be decided on until later this week.