Sheriff apologizes for accidentally leaving gun at school
SHEPHERD, Mich. (AP) — A county sheriff apologized Tuesday for accidentally leaving his backup gun in a Michigan school gym locker room.
Isabella County Sheriff Michael Main said his mistake is inexcusable.
"In the 20 years of law enforcement service I have never left a weapon anywhere," he said in a statement. "I have no excuse for my lack of responsibility with this matter. I have worked diligently my entire career to protect people, especially our youth. However, I have failed to do just that, and I'm devastated with my lack of accountability in this matter."
Main said he used the locker room at Shepherd Middle School to change from street clothes into uniform for an event at the weekend. Main said he believed the gun — his backup weapon — was in his bag when he left. A student later found the gun and told an adult, according to Main.
It wasn't clear if Main, an elected official, would face disciplinary action. The Isabella County prosecutor's office said in a separate statement that the incident is under investigation, but had no further comment about the case.
Main told the Morning Sun of Mount Pleasant that Isabella County deputies are permitted to carry guns while off-duty. He said deputies are not subject to gun-free zone requirements at schools because they are not carrying under concealed pistol license requirements. Isabella County is 150 miles (240 kilometers) northwest of Detroit.
The possibility of allowing guns in schools is one of the nation's most contentious issues, as lawmakers, educators, parents and students try to find ways to stem mass shootings following last month's massacre of 17 people at a Florida high school.
Suggestions include allowing teachers with firearms training to bring guns into the school.
Shepherd Public Schools Superintendent Claire Bunker told parents that the weapon was found before classes started Monday, according to the newspaper.
"He is human and he made a mistake," Bunker said of Main, adding that she is extremely proud of the student who brought the gun to the attention of a staff member. Main said he personally apologized to the student who found his gun.
Main says a student found the gun and immediately contacted an adult.
Sheriff Main released a full statement saying:
Yesterday I was made aware that the Shepherd Public Schools had located a firearm in a locker room bathroom. I almost immediately realized that the weapon they located was my secondary/backup firearm. I had been in the school on an event over the weekend and had used a locked locker room to change from my regular clothes to my police uniform, as I was headed to a work event.
In the 20 years of law enforcement service, I have never left a weapon anywhere. I have no excuse for my lack of responsibility with this matter. I have worked diligently my entire career to protect people, especially our youth. However, I have failed to do just that, and I’m devastated with my lack of accountability in this matter.
I personally apologize to the student who found it and praise him for immediately contacting an adult. I apologize to the students of Shepherd, the staff and faculty as well. The Shepherd Schools work diligently to make sure they provide a safe campus every day and to have this occur is not any reflection of their success in doing so. The Shepherd School and Shepherd Police Department handled the incident very professionally and appropriately. I’m sorry that my actions caused them to have to deal with such a troubling issue.
Sadly, this type of event will portray a negative image of my Office and local law enforcement. I’m very sorry for the image of un-professionalism that it may cause. The law enforcement in this area work very hard every day to do the right thing and provide great service to the community.
I took yesterday off after I learned of the incident to try and comprehend the matter. I have been physically and emotionally distraught, which will not end anytime soon. I am prepared for the harsh criticism that will follow the release of this information. I understand clearly that I have a higher level of standard that must be met and quite frankly I let myself, my family and the community down. No matter how busy or how much is going on there is no excuse for this and I am truly sorry. This will not happen again.
UpNorthLive contributed to this article.