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Education

Chula Vista Dad Pleads Guilty In Case Where Son Brought Gun To School

A man whose 14-year-old son brought his father's gun to Hilltop High School in Chula Vista pleaded guilty Tuesday to charges of felony child abuse, possession of a firearm by a felon and possession of ammunition by a felon.

Zachariah Joseph Dow faces up to eight years in state prison when he is sentenced Sept. 3, said Deputy District Attorney Kristi Hein.

Dow, 37, surrendered to Chula Vista police the night of May 21, about seven hours after the non-injury gun scare at his son's high school. An assistant principal at the Claire Avenue campus made an emergency call late that morning to report that several students had seen a ninth-grader displaying a handgun in class.

"They claimed the suspect student ... made statements indicating that the gun was loaded and that he could potentially use (it) to shoot someone at school," police Lt. Fritz Reber said.

When officers went to the suspect's classroom and summoned him, he stood up and reached for his backpack, though not in "an aggressive way," the lieutenant said, and they rushed over and took him into custody without incident.

Inside the boy's bag was a loaded .44-caliber revolver, police said.

Friends of the arrested boy told reporters he had been bullied at school.

The teen was booked into juvenile hall on suspicion of bringing a loaded firearm onto school grounds. Detectives later determined that the suspect's father owned the gun.

An unsecured .22-caliber pistol also was found under a mattress in the man's home, police said.

The incident was at least the third time this year a student was investigated for taking a gun on a San Diego County school campus. The others occurred at Feaster Charter School in Chula Vista and Mission Bay High School in San Diego.

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