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Three Students Arrested for Bringing Guns to Berkeley High Campus

By Janna Brancolini (BCN)
Wednesday March 23, 2011 - 12:39:00 PM

Three Berkeley High School students were arrested on campus today in two separate incidents for bringing — and in one case discharging — firearms on campus, a school district spokesman said.

Two students were arrested after a gun they brought to the school went off in a bathroom, and the third was arrested a short time later for having an unloaded handgun, Berkeley Unified spokesman Mark Coplan said. 

The school was temporarily put on lockdown while officials responded to the incidents, which started at about 8:45 a.m. when a custodian heard what sounded like a gunshot on the southeast side of campus, Coplan said. 

The custodian saw two students walking out of a bathroom near some portable classrooms before leaving the campus, so he told a safety officer on the street that he thought the students had been involved with the gunshot. 

The safety officer ran after the students while he radioed the safety team and the Berkeley Police Department, Coplan said. The rest of the safety team did an initial campus closure, which involved putting an administrator or a safety officer at each entrance. 

The suspects circled around the campus and tried to enter from the other side, but the safety team knew who they were looking for, Coplan said. 

The students were apprehended when they tried to re-enter the school grounds, and they were handed over to Berkeley police. 

The suspects were interviewed extensively and denied any involvement in the gun's going off, but at about 11 a.m., they finally admitted dropping a gun on Haste Street, Coplan said. 

The bullet had gone through the bathroom wall out toward the street, away from the direction of the classrooms, and nobody was injured.  

Meanwhile, when the school was locked down, an unrelated anonymous tip came in that a student on campus might have had a handgun. 

Two safety officers escorted the student from class and took him to a detention office where Berkeley police were waiting. The officers searched him and found an unloaded handgun, Coplan said. 

All three students, who are 16 and 17 years old, were arrested and taken to Juvenile Hall. 

The first two were arrested on suspicion of reckless discharge of a firearm and with possession of a firearm, Coplan said. The third was arrested on suspicion of possession of an unloaded firearm. 

Today marked the third time in three months that police have responded to guns on the Berkeley High School campus. 

He said officials would use today's incidents to see what practices can be put into place to prevent firearms on campus, and to obtain information from the students. 

"In all three of these incidents, none of them indicated there was intent" to use the firearms, he said. "It was kids showing off guns, and that's frightening."