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Police thankful coming out of middle school gun scare

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CNY/NNY/S. Tier: Police thankful coming out of middle school gun scare
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Parents and kids in Utica were shaken up after a scare at a middle school basketball game Tuesday night. A gun wound up on the gym floor and from there, the situation only escalated. YNN's Andrew Sorensen has details of what unfolded and why police are happy the incident ended the way it did.

UTICA, N.Y. -- Parents and kids packed the Donovan Middle School gym Tuesday night, ready for a girls’ basketball game. But no one could have anticipated what came next. With a school resource officer and off-duty cop looking on, a 14-year-old boy stepped out onto the court.

Utica Police Sergeant Steve Hauck says the off-duty officer was just there to watch the game. She saw him first, “And [she] then heard him drop something. It hit the wood floor and made a very loud noise,” he said.

“At that point, the off-duty officer yelled, 'gun,'” explained UCSD Director of Security John Syrotynski

Police say the officers chased the boy out to a roundabout in front of the school where they caught up with him, but the situation only became more intense.

“He pointed the gun at the female officer and they took cover,” Hauck said.

In response, the officers pulled their guns and eventually got him to drop what turned out to be a BB gun, but Hauck says that didn't make the threat any less real.

“If you see these guns, some of them even operate like real guns. They slide back, they have magazines, just like a real gun does,” he said.

“Being a retired police officer of 27 years of experience, I'm retired, it's a scary situation,” Syrotynski said.

The director of Utica City School District security says although the incident was unfortunate, their security worked.

“It demonstrated that the Utica City School District security plan, which is in place, shows the cooperation between the Utica Police and the Utica City School District,” said Syrotynski.

But he also said they have plans to make sure it doesn't happen again.

“If that means wanding, we'll wand,” he said.

The 14 year-old was lucky, however, that the two officers showed restraint.

“Everybody makes mistakes, especially when you're 14-years-old, but to die over something like this. Thankfully the officers were there making the great decisions that they did,” said Hauck.

Police say they're still investigating why the boy had the gun, but any charges that come from it will likely play out in family court.

The school district says the boy was a student at a different area middle school. They say they can't comment on what punishment he will receive, but they say a five day suspension followed by a superintendent hearing is typical.

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