A Massachusetts bus driver plead not guilty on multiple charges Monday but was ordered to relinquish any guns he owns after Norfolk middle school students last week allegedly found a gun on the school bus he was driving.
During an appearance at Wrentham District Court, David Tripp, 65, of Norfolk, was released on personal recognizance. He was arrested Thursday and charged with reckless endangerment of a child, improper storage of a firearm near a minor, intimidation of a witness/juror/court official and carrying a firearm on campus.
Around 8:30 p.m. Thursday, Norfolk police received a call from a parent who said their child reported a group of King Philip Middle School students saw a gun as they were getting on the bus at dismissal time, authorities said.
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Police began investigating and notified school officials, who utilize Holmes Bus Company, a private bus service based in Norfolk, according to the statement.
After interviewing witnesses and reviewing surveillance footage from the bus, investigators determined the gun was found on a seat in the back of bus as students were boarding. No student touched the gun, authorities said.
Officials said Tripp heard a commotion among children in the back of the bus and allegedly took the gun and put it in his pocket. He then continued on his route and did not report the incident to police or school officials.
There were about a dozen middle school students on the bus when the gun was found. Police interviewed Tripp on Friday and determined it was his firearm. He was arrested at his home without incident, authorities said.
The gun fell out of Tripp's pocket while he was cleaning up the bus after dropping off Norfolk elementary school students. No elementary school students came in contact with or saw the firearm, authorities said.
The weapon was identified by police as a Smith & Wesson .45 caliber gun. When it was confiscated at Tripp's home Friday, it was loaded with seven rounds, but did not have a round in the chamber, authorities said.
Tripp does have a license to carry a firearm, but that will be immediately suspended, authorities said. Any and all firearms in his possession will also be seized by police.
Tripp is scheduled to appear in court again on July 12.
Norfolk police chief Charles Stone on Thursday called the incident alarming.
"It could have ended tragically," he said at a press conference. "We're thankful that no children were injured."
School officials said they were disturbed to learn of the allegation that someone in charge of children was carrying a weapon and leaving it where students could find it.
“We are shocked and appalled that this type of situation has occurred within our district," King Philip Regional School District Superintendent Paul Zinni said at a press conference Friday.
"I am furious, as our parents and community members should be, and we will be reviewing our contract with the bus company and at the very least demanding the driver's termination," Norfolk Public Schools Superintendent Ingrid Allardi said in a statement.
Tripp, a driver of more than 15 years, has been banned from transporting children in both school districts, authorities said.