VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) - Police say an unloaded shotgun was found inside of a student's car in the parking lot of Kempsville High School.
According to Jimmy Barnes with the Virginia Beach Police Department, the gun was found sitting out in the open in the car, along with a hunting knife.
Barnes said it appeared as though the student did not mean any harm by bringing the gun, but had just made a mistake bringing it with him to school.
The student will be charged with having a gun on school property and Barnes said he believes that increased security at schools helped in finding the gun.
According to Bill Harris, Kempsville High School principal, officials had investigated a rumor of a possible shooting at the school. In a voicemail to parents Tuesday, Harris said the individual they believe is responsible for that rumor has been identified.
"It's really bad timing," said Jimmy Barnes with the Virginia Beach Police Department. "There's no connection between this gun and to anything that could harm any of the students at the school."
School officials said the threat was made Friday, but chose not to make it public until they investigated the source of the rumor.
"It's bad when you don't want to send you kid to school anymore," Kempsville parent Barbara Bryant said. "You always go through life thinking that you're going to do whatever it takes to protect your children, but if something happens to them while they are going to school you know we can't protect them while they're at school."
For Bryant, any kind of shooting hits close to home. She was at Thalia Gardens in Virginia Beach five years ago when a gunman shot five people, killing two and then himself.
After her sister, Rebecca Hughes, was killed, violent threats are no joke.
"This is my son's life you're playing with," Bryant said. "What if it were serious and whoever made the threat did go to school and shoot the school up?"
The following is a voicemail left by Harris to parents Tuesday afternoon:
This is Bill Harris, principal of Kempsville High School, with an important message about school safety. As you are aware, the tragic events in Connecticut have multiplied public concerns about school safety. In the spirit of open communication, I need to advise you that this week school administration and police investigated rumors of a possible shooting at our school. We believe we have identified the student who is the source of that rumor and are dealing with that individual. However, we live in an era where hyper-vigilance is necessary. Consequently, we have arranged to have additional security on hand all week.
As a result of that extra security, police did recover hunting gear, including a knife and an unloaded shotgun from a student’s car in the parking lot this morning. The student advised police that he forgot to remove this equipment after a weekend hunting trip. Let me be clear here. There is no room for mistakes like that in our public schools. This student is now facing criminal charges. Please talk to your children about the importance of school safety and underscore this school division’s zero tolerance policy for any kind of weapon on school grounds.
As always, we ask you to encourage your children to report any threat or suspicious activity to police or school administration immediately. However, please emphasize the importance of not participating in groundless speculation. Kempsville High School has always been a safe, positive learning environment. We all must work together to ensure that this stays the case.