By Dave Rogers
---- — NEWBURY — An unloaded shotgun and a box of ammunition were among the items found in the truck of a Trition Regional High School football player Friday during a planned search of the school campus by police officials.
It was determined, however, that the shotgun belonged to the student’s 24-year-old relative who left it in the truck after a recent hunting trip. The student will not be charged with bringing the gun onto the school campus.
The student’s relative, Nicholas Ruocco of Lexington, faces a charge of improper storage of a non large-capacity weapon and will be summonsed to Newburyport District Court. The student, whom police would not identify, had no knowledge that the weapon was in his truck, according to Newbury police.
The student, a senior, faces disciplinary consequences from the school district, according to police.
Triton Regional High School Superintendent Christopher Farmer would not disclose the name of the student or whether the disciplinary consequences would include missing Thursday’s Thanksgiving match-up against Pentucket Regional High School. Farmer would only confirm the student had been separated from other students following the incident.
A call to football coach Pat Sheehan asking whether his player had been suspended for the game was not returned in time for this report.
Following the incident, Farmer sent an email to parents alerting them to the search.
“Upon searching the parking lot, hunting equipment was found in a vehicle. The hunting firearm was secured by the Newbury Police Department. An investigation determined that the possession of the hunting equipment was an oversight of the student and there was no malicious intent. While there is no safety concern, the school is handling the situation in conjunction with the Newbury Police Department,” according to the email.
The unloaded firearm was discovered by K-9 police units from the Essex County Sheriff’s Office and local police while they were conducting a random search for narcotics on school grounds.
The shotgun was located inside a case in the cluttered bed of the truck among a myriad of hunting gear and other debris.
It was quickly determined the weapon had been inadvertently left in the bed of the truck after the student and his licensed relative were pheasant hunting.
Newbury police later determined the student had no idea the weapon was in the back of his truck.
Farmer classified the search of the school grounds as planned but random, saying similar searches are conducted throughout the school year. The search yielded a small quantity of marijuana found inside another student’s backpack.
“The high school administration has taken appropriate action,” Farmer said, referring to the owner of the backpack.