A 15-year-old male student has been arrested after a school resource officer found a loaded handgun in his backpack. (WJZ video)

A 15-year-old student at Glen Burnie High who police say went to the school Tuesday with a loaded .22-caliber handgun was arrested and charged as a juvenile with a weapons violation.

Officials credited three staff members at the school with detaining the student and discovering the gun in a book bag.

"I don't think it's possible to overstate the importance that an alert school secretary and two assistant principals — who didn't take simple answers that weren't adding up at face value — played in preventing what could have been a disastrous situation," said Bob Mosier, a spokesman for Anne Arundel public schools.

County police said the student, who was not identified, left the Baltimore Annapolis Road campus Tuesday morning, then was spotted by a school secretary as he returned shortly after noon. The secretary stopped the student, and two assistant principals asked him why he had left.

Police said the student's responses "raised questions." School staff searched his book bag and found the.22-caliber pistol containing seven rounds, police said.

A school resource officer took possession of the gun, and the student was taken into custody and charged, police said. Police said he would be placed at the Cheltenham Youth Facility in Prince George's County.

Mosier said possession of a firearm on school grounds also carries school system sanctions that could include referral to an alternative learning program and expulsion. He said "appropriate disciplinary action has been taken," but declined to discuss details.

Police said they were investigating how the student obtained the gun. Police said the teen never displayed the gun or threatened anyone, and that they do not believe that any other student was involved.

Principal Vickie Plitt addressed the incident in a letter emailed to parents and posted on the school's website. Parents were alerted to the letter via the school's automated phone system, officials said.

Plitt detailed the incident and promised to "continue to provide you with as much information as I am able to as this investigation moves forward."

She also praised the work of the school staff members.

"Because of their quick and wise decisions, what could have been an incredibly dangerous situation was averted," she wrote.

Mosier said school system staff and students are familiarized with safety and security procedures.

"Those protocols and procedures are only as good as the people on the ground who implement them," he said.

joe.burris@baltsun.com

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