Salt Lake Police: 3 students detained, 1 charged after gun incident at West High School; weapon not found

Police responded to a reported threat on West High School, which was placed on lockdown on Monday, Dec. 13, 2021. Photo: Gephardt Daily/Patrick Benedict

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah, Dec. 13, 2021 (Gephardt Daily) — The Salt Lake City Police Department has revealed that three students were detained and one was booked into a juvenile detention center as a result of the West High School weapon search and lockdown Monday, which lasted most of the school day.

The investigation began after one or more of the students posted photos of a gun in a recognizable school setting on social media, reportedly on Snapchat, and the SLCPD School Resource Officers were alerted to the possible danger.

The SLCPD SROs, Salt Lake City School District, and West High School administrators began an investigation to ensure the safety of students, teachers, and school staff. The school administration initiated a school lockdown shortly after being made aware of the possible threat, an SLCPD statement says.

“During the investigation, SLCPD SROs (school resource officers) learned one of the involved students stole the firearm from a family member and brought it to school,” the statement says. “Three students connected to the case were identified and later located by SLCPD SROs. The parents and/or guardians of all three students have been notified of the situation.”

Police responded to a reported threat on West High School, which was placed on lockdown on Monday, Dec. 13, 2021. Photo: Gephardt Daily/Patrick Benedict

One of the three students was taken into custody and transported to the Salt Lake Valley Detention Center where he will be referred to the 3rd District Juvenile Court for prosecution consideration.

One of the three students was released to parents, and may be charged at a future date. The investigation into the involvement of the third student is still ongoing.

“It has not been determined whether they will be released to their parents/guardians or if they will be transported to the Salt Lake Valley Detention Center,” the statement says.

After a search of the school was complete, West High administrators lifted the lockdown. The weapon associated with the case has not been located, the SLCPD statement says.

“The SLCPD and its SROs are continuing to investigate this matter,” the police department statement says. “SLCPD officers are continuing their investigation in the area surrounding the school. If any community member locates the firearm, they are advised to not touch it and to call 9-1-1.”

Anyone with information on this case is asked to call 801-799-3000 and reference case number 21-228434. SLCPD officials say there will be no additional information on this case is being released.

Parental concerns

Parent Phil Baker heard about the lockdown when he texted his sons in the building about an upcoming sporting event.

“They told me the school was on lockdown, and that gave me extreme concern with all that is happening in the United States, so I decided to come down and pick them up,” Baker told Gephardt Daily late Monday morning at the scene.

He arrived to see many students waiting outside the school who had not been inside when the lockdown went into effect. They and numerous concerned parents were waiting outside the school in the 48 degree cold.

“I found out from one kid they’ve been on lockdown almost since I dropped by kids off at school this morning, so that’s what’s frustrating.”

Baker said he learned about the gun photos posted on social media, and he also learned about threats that caused Box Elder County Schools to decide students at multiple schools would be closed Monday during the investigation, with students studying remotely, as as the investigation continues.

“It’s concerning,” Baker said. “What does it take for people to realize the severity of situations like this? Does it take more kids to be killed, and faculty and staff? It’s just nerve racking.”

Police responded to a reported threat on West High School, which was placed on lockdown on Monday, Dec. 13, 2021. Photo: Gephardt Daily/Patrick Benedict

Baker said he would like to see people take common sense steps to curb the problem.

“Lock your guns up.,” he said. “Background checks. And even if your gun and choose it because I’m a gun enthusiast, teach your kids about those things. They are not toys. You know? If you feel your child has a mental disability, that needs to be checked.”

Baker said we are paying a high price for freedoms that are abused by people who don’t respect gun safety. And gun owners who are irresponsible put everyone at risk.

“A bullet and a gun does not have a specific name on it.”

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