16-year-old arrested at Olathe Northwest after police say he had a loaded gun at school

A 16-year-old Olathe Northwest High School student was arrested Friday after a loaded gun was found inside his backpack, according to police.

School administrators said they received a report from a student that a classmate may have a weapon in their backpack. At about 11:20 a.m., administrators notified a school resource officer of the report, said Sgt. John Moncayo, a spokesman for the Olathe Police Department.

Moncayo said the school resource officer found the student in the cafeteria and “was able to take control of the student and separate him from his backpack.”

Police said the officer found a loaded handgun inside the backpack.

“Immediately upon being notified, our School Resource Officer went to remove the student from the cafeteria and further investigate, following the district’s safety protocols,” Northwest Principal Chris Zuck said in an email to families on Friday. “There was an altercation between the student and the SRO and school administration. The student was detained as the SRO requested additional police presence.”

Zuck said no other students or staff members were involved, and no one was injured.

“Staff acted quickly to diffuse the situation and remove the student and their belongings,” the principal said in the email. “Upon further investigation, it was confirmed that the student did have a gun in their backpack. It is important to note that at no point was the gun used and there is no threat to Olathe Northwest.”

“Our top priority is always the safety of our students and staff,” he said, adding that there was a higher law enforcement presence for the rest of the school day.

A separate incident a couple of years ago, when a student brought a gun to Olathe East High School, escalated to a shooting during an altercation with the student, an officer and an administrator, leaving all three injured.

In March 2022, school administrators brought Jaylon Elmore, then a senior at East, to the office after a student told a school counselor she was afraid because another student had brought a gun to school, according to court documents.

Police said Elmore refused to let the officer search his backpack. Prosecutors claim Elmore then fired his gun, striking the officer in the chest and in the leg. The officer fired as well, striking Elmore twice, according to court records.

The assistant principal tackled Elmore and was shot twice, records show. The district attorney’s office released a statement shortly after, indicating that the assistant principal was “most likely” shot by the school resource officer during the altercation.

Elmore, who was hospitalized in critical condition for an extended period of time after the shooting, was charged with attempted capital murder, felony possession of a firearm and two counts of criminal use of a weapon. The criminal case, where Elmore appears to be pursuing a mental health defense, is ongoing.

District officials afterward investigated the incident and reviewed security protocols.