A high school student who allegedly brought a gun to school has been cited by Palo Alto police, the department announced on Monday.
Last week, police cited the student for possession of a weapon on a school campus after receiving information that she brought a weapon, possibly an airsoft gun, to Palo Alto High School and showed it to another student. The alleged incident occurred about two months ago, police said in a press release.
Administrators at the school, located at 50 Embarcadero Road, reported a suspicious circumstance to police dispatchers on March 24 at about 11:28 a.m. Students had reported a female student had posted images of herself holding a handgun on Instagram and might have also brought the weapon to school in the past. Police launched an investigation in close collaboration with school officials, they said.
A 15-year-old female student had allegedly posted two images on Instagram that showed herself holding what appeared to be a black handgun. One of the images was dated in December 2022. The images have since been removed.
Officers interviewed the student and multiple others with knowledge of the situation. Based on those interviews, police determined the weapon might have been an airsoft gun that belonged to the student's relative. The images might have been digitally altered to remove the orange tip, which identifies it as an airsoft gun, or the orange tip had been removed from the weapon.
At one point about two months ago, the student allegedly brought the weapon onto the Paly campus and let a classmate hold it while in a school bathroom, police said.
Officers cited the student for possession of a weapon on a school campus — a misdemeanor — and released her to the custody of a family member. Police searched the student’s home and did not locate the weapon, which is currently believed to be out of state in the possession of the relative who owned it.
Additional information on the student will not be available since she is underage, police said.
Police praised the students who came forward to report what they had seen online, as well as other students who cooperated and assisted with the investigation.
"The importance of the common mantra of 'If you see something, say something' cannot be overemphasized. In order to maintain a safe environment at school for students and staff alike, students with information about others possibly in possession of weapons should immediately report that immediately to police, a school official, or another trusted adult," the department said.
Anyone with information about this incident is asked to call Palo Alto Police Department's 24-hour dispatch center at 650-329-2413. Anonymous tips can be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org or sent by text message or voicemail to 650-383-8984.