A 14-year-old youth from Savage was arrested early yesterday carrying a loaded .357-caliber Magnum handgun and driving a stolen motorcycle.
A Howard County police officer responding to a routine complaint about noise from the motorcycle in Savage Park found the gun in the boy's backpack.
The youth, who wasn't identified because of his age, was being held in police custody late yesterday until workers from the county Department of Juvenile Services could be notified. Juvenile authorities will determine whether the boy will be released into his parents' custody or taken to a juvenile detention facility, police said.
The youth has been charged with theft of a motor vehicle, destruction of property, possession of a deadly weapon and a handgun violation.
Police said the boy had taken the handgun from his parents' home without permission. The weapon is being held in the department's property room as evidence. Since the handgun belongs to the youth's parents and was not used in the commission of a crime, it could be returned to them later, police said.
Police said the youth may have been planning to run away. He told officers yesterday that he had the weapon because he planned on "being out for a few days."
"We don't know if he was a runaway or not, but it certainly is possible," said Sgt. Gary Gardner, Howard County police spokesman.
About 8:20 a.m. yesterday, an officer responded to a call from workers at Savage Park in the 8300 block of Fair Street about someone driving a motorcycle on the grass, a park violation.
Five minutes later, the officer found the youth pushing a 1975 Honda CB500T motorcycle in the park. The youth told police he borrowed the bike from a friend.
But when the officer completed a registration check, the owner said the bike had been stolen from the 8200 block of Woodward Street in Savage some time after 9 p.m. Sunday night.
The officer arrested the youth and confiscated a boot knife in his left boot and the loaded handgun and extra ammunition in his backpack.
Sgt. Gardner said the incident points to the potential danger posed by the easy availability of guns.
"This incident reminds people that even teen-agers have been known to carry guns and we all should be careful when confronting people involved in suspicious activity," he said.
Sgt. Gardner said police get similar calls for disruptive teens in parks at least a hundred times a year.