MPD says student brought airsoft gun to school, not real gun

MADISON, Wis. — A spokesperson with the Madison Police Department says officers with the department have determined that a gun seized from a La Follette student’s backpack on Monday was an airsoft gun and not a real gun, counter to what authorities had initially reported.

MPD officers were first called to the high school just after 9 a.m. Monday after officials found the airsoft gun in a teen’s backpack. Officials with MPD also initially reported the gun was stolen, but it’s unclear if the airsoft gun was stolen as MPD first reported.

Sergeant Kimba Tieu, MPD’s use-of-force coordinator, said authorities likely determined the weapon was an airsoft gun after taking a closer look at it, though he couldn’t speak to the process for this specific incident.

“Once we have it in our hands and our possession, we can do basic function checks that determine, again, could an actual magazine with live ammunition fit into the weapon and then again fire through the chamber, through the barrel, those kinds of things,” Tieu said. “That wouldn’t necessarily require a firing test — or a test fire rather — at a range or the crime lab.”

In their initial report, police said an airsoft magazine was found inside the weapon, which, according to Tieu, would have looked incredibly similar to a real gun during law enforcement’s response.

“While they look very close to real magazines that actually fire ammunition, the way, for example, pellets would feed into the device — it’s a separate system and the weapons themselves are designed such that real ammunition couldn’t fit into it,” Tieu said.

RELATED: 16-year-old arrested after taking gun to La Follette High School, MPD says

Madison Metropolitan School District spokesperson Tim LeMonds told News 3 Now that members of the administrative team overheard a conversation between two students that referenced a weapon. LeMonds said staff spoke to the students involved, and the weapon was found during that investigation. Police were called for assistance once staff found the gun.

“Bringing any weapon into our school buildings is a very serious matter and we are treating it as such,” LeMonds said.

Madison police say they do not know as of now why the student had the gun in his bag. No other details about the incident were immediately available. The teenager was taken to the Juvenile Reception Center, and LeMonds says police are continuing to investigate.