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Students with loaded guns arrested after struggle at Highland High School

Posted at 5:05 PM, Jun 05, 2023

SALT LAKE CITY — Three students were arrested Monday following a brief confrontation after bringing loaded guns inside Highland High School.

Salt Lake City Police said school security alerted a resource officer about a suspicious car parked on the school's property around 1 p.m. The resource officer later saw three people inside the car, all of whom tried leaving when approached by the officer.

According to police, two of the Highland High School students entered the campus building and tried to make a quick exit, leading the resource officer to call for assistance.

The officer was able to detain both students following what was described by police as a "short struggle," with each student being found to have loaded handguns in their possession.

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The third person, a student at East High School, was later found after a short search and arrested.

Police said the two students with guns were arrested and booked into the Salt Lake County Juvenile Detention Center, while the third was released to a legal guardian.

One of the weapons confiscated was previously reported as stolen. Police are investigating how the students gained possession of the weapons and their intent.

“I think it's a really unfortunate part of the world we're living in today,” said Liz Conde, parent and the president of Highland High School PTA. “I don't think Highland is immune to this. I just think this is what all public high schools are dealing with across the country. And it is a really sad state of events that this is what our teenage kids have to deal with.”

Conde said she appreciates the quick actions of the guard and officer in keeping students and staff safe.

“I do think that Highland couldn't have handled it in a better way. I mean, their resource officer was right on top of it and it felt like it was pretty proactive that they were so ahead of the game in preventing anything scary,” she said, “And so I'm so grateful for that officer that was vigilant and looking around and took action.”

SLCPD Detective Ben Nielsen said the teams worked well together in using their training for threats like Monday’s.

“Obviously we don’t want this to happen, but we want to make sure that we’re ready if it does,” said Nielsen, “And by working together, we made sure that that happened.”

He said this happening once is one time too many.

“We don't want this to happen again,” said Nielsen. “Once we get this investigation complete and we get more information, we'll use that in future trainings and future education with our partners, whether it be the school or the community and just work together to make sure that we can stop this from happening again.”

Conde also said she hopes investments are made for children to be able to learn without having to worry about their lives being on the line.

“We're living in this crazy world where guns are so accessible and this is just happening across the country,” said Conde. “I think I would love to see a bigger allocation of resources to officers that are public high schools. And I don't think that's just highland. I think that's probably our district and across the state and probably across the country that we just need well-trained officers at these public high schools and maybe more and maybe pay them better so that they want to stay and make them feel valued at these schools because obviously they did a great job yesterday.”