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Officials: Handgun found in school backpack

SNELLVILLE -- School police acting on a tip found a handgun in a Shiloh High School freshman's bookbag and arrested him on felony charges this week, officials said.

Snellville resident Derrick Wattenbarger remained jailed Thursday on a charge of possession of a weapon on school property. In a letter to parents, Shiloh principal Gwen Tatum called the incident rare and commended school police for handling it quickly.

A school resource officer pulled Wattenbarger from class about 8 a.m. Wednesday after receiving information he could be carrying a weapon. Wattenbarger was escorted to an isolated area, where the officer found a .380 caliber automatic handgun in a bookbag he was carrying, according to a school police report.

In addition to criminal charges, Wattenbarger will be disciplined at school, said Jorge Quintana, Gwinnett Public Schools spokesman.

Wattenbarger was being held Thursday on $5,700 bond at the Gwinnett County Jail.