Atwater teen arrested for leaving loaded gun in car during school dance

ATWATER, Calif. (KFSN) -- An Atwater teen is facing charges after police found a firearm in the student's car on Saturday. Police said the officer pulled the car over after the students were leaving a school dance.

It was a scary situation for the students at that dance along with their parents. Police say they're glad they caught the student when they did and that the gun didn't make it inside the school.

"It's very disturbing students would bring this," Atwater Police's interim police chief Sam Joseph said. "Especially to a dance."

Police said Ofc. Dave Sarginson, the school resource officer for Buhach Colony High School, set up surveillance on Friday during the school's Sadie Hawkins dance. While observing the area, the officer's K9 unit signaled to a gold Acura that was unusually parked in the school's north parking lot. Police said that Sarginson then saw four students leaving the dance and get into that car.

"That's when Ofc. Sarginson made a stop of the vehicle," Joseph explained. "The subjects inside started moving around like if they were trying to hide something."

The officer then pulled out his firearm and held the students at gunpoint until backup arrived. Inside the car, police found a loaded .45 caliber underneath a seat along with a bag of marijuana. The 16-year-old admitted to having the gun and was placed under arrest then released to his parents.

"Be aware, we're going to have the dogs in the parking lot," Merced Union High School District superintendent Alan Peterson said.

Peterson said safety is their top priority and actions will be taken.

"This is an EDCO violation, a serious one," Peterson said. "One of our Top Five's, so any student would be expelled from school. It's a mandatory expulsion."

Peterson said there's been a focus on safety district-wide and they will continue to educate staff and students as best as they can. Police said they're glad the situation wasn't worse.

"God knows if the subjects would've taken the firearm into the dance, what could've occurred," Joseph said.

Police said the firearm was taken as evidence and is being investigated. They are also in the process of questioning the student to find out the teen's motive behind bringing a gun to the school grounds.
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