Bus driver reports Tucumcari student with gun

New Mexico State Police are investigating an incident involving a teenager accused of possessing a firearm at Tucumcari Middle School.

On Jan. 29, a bus driver who had completed his route reported to a school secretary that a student was carrying a gun in a backpack, said Aaron McKinney, Tucumcari's school superintendent.

It wasn't immediately clear how the unidentified driver knew the teen had a gun.

McKinney said he contacted the state police immediately and informed them of the incident.

Officers made contact with a 13-year-old and located an Airsoft CO2 powered pellet gun, said Lt. Lance Bateman.

Bateman said the pellet gun was similar in appearance to a Beretta 9mm handgun.

"If this weapon had been drawn on an officer it would be difficult for them to tell if it were a real handgun or pellet gun," Bateman said. "An officer would have to treat it as a real weapon and threat."

Bateman said once the investigation is complete a report will be submitted to the 10th Judicial District Attorney's office to determine if any charges will be filed.

"The safety of the students, teachers and staff of Tucumcari schools is of the utmost importance," McKinney said.

McKinney said he could not discuss any disciplinary actions administered to the middle school student, but confirmed action was taken. He said the situation was handled appropriately according to the procedures and policies of the school district.

"There is a zero tolerance in these types of matters," McKinney said. "Any type of weapon on school property needs to be taken seriously by students, teachers, staff and parents."

McKinney said there is a federal law outlining possession of firearms on school property and school policies include disciplinary action including a 20-day suspension or a year expulsion from school.

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