Father of Boy Who Brought Loaded Gun to School Arrested

Officers discovered a .44 caliber revolver inside the freshman's backpack

The father of a high school freshman who brought a loaded handgun to school Wednesday has been arrested, according to Chula Vista police.

Zachariah Dow, 36, turned himself in at Chula Vista police headquarters Wednesday evening. Police said Dow was arrested for being a convicted felon in possession of firearm.

Meanwhile, police served a search warrant at the boy's home, looking for more weapons. Police said officers found a .22 caliber semi-automatic pistol unsecured under a bed.

Police received a call from Hilltop High School at 11:04 a.m. after several students told school officials that the ninth grader had a gun.

“According to them, he showed them the gun, and he made some statements indicating he would actually use it,” Chula Vista Police Lt. Fritz Reber said.

“The student said he was going to hurt somebody,” said Manuel Rubio, spokesman with the Sweetwater Union High School District. “He didn't say someone specifically. He didn't say student or staff member specifically. He said he had something and he might hurt somebody or something was going to happen."

Officers took the 14-year-old boy out of class and discovered a .44 caliber revolver (pictured above) in his backpack, according to Chula Vista police.

No one was injured, and classes continued as usual for the rest of the school day.

“We all know things could be a lot worse, and everyone did everything they were supposed to do,” Lt. Reber said.

The unidentified teen has been arrested for possession of a loaded firearm on school grounds and remains at juvenile hall.

Parent Johnny Sanchez said his ninth grade daughter was in class with the boy who brought the gun.

“My heart dropped a little bit, but she’s fine and I’m here to take her home,” Sanchez said.

Parents received a recorded phone message about the incident after 20 minutes after the 14-year-old was taken into custody, Rubio said.

One mother told NBC 7 she was upset because the message did not indicate that the weapon was a loaded gun.

“I had no idea. They just said 'a weapon,'” said the woman named DeAnndra.

“They called us after everything happened. I wish I would have been called sooner because something could have happened,” she said.

Rubio said the district contacted parents so quickly that they didn't have the full information confirmed from police about what type of weapon it was.

Transcription of the phone alert sent to parents:

This morning, a student at Hilltop High School came onto campus with a weapon. The student did not immediately make any threats toward others but did make comments to classmates about having the weapon on their person and potentially using it. Students who heard the comments immediately told the main office, and the Chula Vista Police Department was immediately notified. The student was questioned and the weapon was apprehended. The student is in custody. The safety and security of our students is a top priority for us. We work hard to maintain a safe environment for students and encourage students and parents and their community to notify staff immediately in case of a threat or a perceived threat. Working together as was the case today we can ensure our students remain safe and secure in the future.

When NBC7 contacted the district about an hour after the message went out to parents, the district had confirmed with police that the weapon was a loaded gun and a spokesman immediately released the information to the media.

Sweetwater Union High School district ranked highest in an NBC7 Investigates survey of all schools in the county and how often they complete and document safety drills required by state law. Last year, the district also conducted an "active shooter" drill. 

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