MADISON (WKOW) — A 5-year-old student found a handgun in the grass near Madison’s Leopold Elementary School Tuesday evening.
“It’s a situation that ended well in the sense that no one was injured,” said Madison Police spokesperson Joel DeSpain.
A school employee saw the student holding the gun and took it immediately, according to a Madison Police Department incident report.
“Even if you’re a criminal, please, these are small children,” said DeSpain. “In this case, we’re fortunate this gun didn’t have a bullet in the chamber, that this child didn’t pull the trigger, and that there was an adult nearby.”
The school’s principal, Peg Keeler, told parents about the incident in a letter on Tuesday.
“I know that this news is deeply unsettling for all of us,” she wrote. “I imagine you may have many questions, as do we. We will continue to work closely with police through their investigation.”
She said that police will be increasing patrols around the school and adjacent park. They are also reviewing video surveillance footage as the investigation continues.
This is the second time a gun has been found on or near Leopold property. In March 2018, a parent and student walking to school found a loaded, stolen gun on the edge of the property.
Madison Metropolitan School District spokesperson Rachel Strauch-Nelson told 27 News that this is a rare occurrence.
Both times, an adult was present, but parents should be talking to their children about what to do if they see an abandoned weapon..
“If you see someone playing with a gun or you see something laying around somewhere, do not touch it,” said DeSpain.
Police said children should tell a trusted adult about the weapon and then let law enforcement handle it.
Here are some additional resources the school provided: This link is to the Child Protection Unit’s lesson on safety, which includes information about what to do when finding something unsafe. This link has information on talking to children about difficult issues.
Police are investigating who tossed the gun or left it on school property.