LOS ANGELES - An 11-year-old boy has been charged with possessing a deadly weapon after bringing a gun to school, claiming he was worried about a Connecticut-style massacre, a schools' spokesman said Tuesday.
The boy brought a .22 caliber handgun into class Monday at the West Kearns Elementary School, in Kearns, Utah, a suburb of Salt Lake City, and allegedly threatened classmates with it before being reported.
"He is alleging that he brought the weapon to protect himself and his friends from a Connecticut-style incident," Ben Horsley, spokesman for the Granite School District of which the school is part, told AFP.
The boy was spotted by schoolmates, who alerted a teacher, who "immediately apprehended and took the student into custody and took him to the principal's office," he said.
The gun was found in the boy's backpack in a classroom. It was not loaded, but the boy did have ammunition, although it was unclear if it was for that type of weapon, said Horsley.
Police were called and he was taken into custody. The boy, who cannot be identified as a juvenile, has been charged with possession of a deadly weapon on school property and aggravated assault.
"The aggravated assault charge stems from an allegation that he threatened, or waved the weapon in a threatening manner against three (fellow) students," said Horsley.
"That appears to have occurred during lunch recess time, while the kids were out on a soccer field in the area." The boy was not reported until nearly the end of the school day.
As well as the criminal charges, the boy has been suspended from the school, said the spokesman, voicing gratitude to the students who reported the incident.
"Our kids continue to be the eyes and ears and the mainstay of our security systems in our school. We have cameras and things like that, but nothing is more effective than kids reporting dangerous behavior."
The incident came three days after 20-year-old Adam Lanza blasted his way into a school in Newtown, Connecticut and killed 20 young children and six adults with a military-style assault rifle in one of America's worst ever school massacres.
© 1994-2012 Agence France-Presse