ST. PETERSBURG (FOX 13) - School resource officers made a surprising discovery in a Pinellas County classroom drawer: a gun, and it was loaded.
It happened Monday at Gibbs High School in St. Petersburg. Police are still trying to figure out whose it is and why they brought a loaded firearm to a school.
A search for a stolen wallet is what tipped off officers to a whole different criminal discovery. They found the handgun stashed in a science lab drawer.
"There weren't any students in the room at the time," said Mike Puetz, Public Information Office for St. Pete Police.
"It had been occupied earlier. There is some suspicion that maybe some of the students occupying the room had gotten wind of the fact that there were officers coming to conduct a search and maybe one in that group had hidden the gun to avoid getting caught."
Though the principal later sent a recorded phone message to parents, police didn't sound the alarms in school because they weren't aware of any imminent threat of violence.
"We don't have any reason to believe at this point that there was any feud, that this gun was going to be used," Puetz said. "Some kids will bring the guns to school because they're having a beef with somebody and they say they keep it for protection. Or, sometimes, it's just a status symbol."
Pinellas Schools Spokesperson Lisa Wolf said, "We take student safety very seriously and we are pleased we were able to help keep students safe without incident."
There are no metal detectors as students enter the school, which is how a weapon could get in. However, Wolf said each school in the district has a crisis plan in place, one which is not made public for safety reasons.
For now, the focus is on who the gun belongs to. "We've processed the gun forensically and we are starting to interview some of the students who were in the room," Puetz said.
It's a serious crime. Once police catch whoever brought this gun to Gibbs, an "F" is in their future - not a failing grade, but a felony.
"It's an unfortunate situation we see nowadays that kids do find time to bring these guns to campuses," Puetz said. "In the vast majority of cases, we find it's usually not the result of an attempt to do a school shooting or anything like that. It's usually a status symbol type situation."
We talked to a few Gibbs students off-camera. They tell us they didn't really know much of what had happened on Monday.
However, Tuesday, they say their principal made an announcement asking anyone who knows of another student carrying a weapon to say something.