Santa Rosa seniors graduate despite gun incident that prompted lockdown

SANTA ROSA, Calif. (KGO) -- Santa Rosa police arrested a 15-year-old student Friday afternoon for allegedly bringing a gun to school. That prompted an immediate lockdown at Santa Rosa High School, which lasted for almost three hours.

Police say there is no evidence that the student was going to shoot the gun on campus, but he is being charged with one felony count for bringing a gun to school.

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Graduating seniors were done with finals and were practicing the graduation ceremony on the football field when police initiated the lockdown. They were rushed to the gym where they had to wait out the ordeal.

"I was scared for my son. I was worrying outside the school. But I talked with him (by cellphone) and he said, 'Yeah, mom, I'm okay,'" explains Evelia Benavides, as she made her way to Friday evening's graduation with her family to watch her son graduate.

Police won't release the name of the student who brought the gun to school because he is a juvenile but says that the student was already suspended from school for another violation.

Captain John Cregan says the student allegedly brought the gun to campus to show it off to his friend. Two other students reported the incident to staff.

"One of the students reported that he observed the student rack the firearm, as in pulling back the slide of the firearm," says Captain Cregan.

More than 30 officers searched for the student who had fled campus. Police found him a few hours later in a nearby neighborhood. He was detained without incident.

After his arrest, the student took police to the McDonald's across the street from the high school, where he threw the gun away in the garbage of the men's bathroom.

Senior Grace Alchemy, who is off to Stanford to study biology, wasn't sure there was going to be a graduation.

Many of these students, who already suffered through the devastating North Bay fires, say Friday night was just about student achievement, and that the lockdown only added to their resolve.

"Such a really insane lockdown, I was with my friends crying and really scared, being here today and celebrating at the end of that, was really, really special for me and made me value it so much more," says Alchemy.

The district says students who didn't finish their final exams due to the lockdown, will be given a waiver and will not have to retake any tests.
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