Student told Merced High gun part was found on campus. It wasn’t accurate, police say

Bobby Marine Franco, 30, of Merced
Bobby Marine Franco, 30, of Merced Courtesy Merced County Sheriff's Office

Merced High School was placed on lockdown early Monday after a 15-year-old student brought a loaded magazine from a firearm on campus, according to Merced police and school officials.

The lockdown was lifted at 8:45 a.m. Monday after authorities determined the student lied when he told school officials he found the magazine in the bushes on campus, police said.

The student was arrested on suspicion of bringing ammunition onto school grounds and causing an emergency at the school, Merced Police Lt. Alan Ward said, adding the student’s discipline is expected to be handled by the school administration.

Hours later, a 30-year-old Merced resident was arrested in connection with the firearm magazine, police said.

The student, fearing the magazine violated school rules, told a campus liaison while arriving at school he found the magazine in the bushes, according to a news release.

But a police investigation during the lockdown revealed the student brought the magazine on campus after finding it on his way to school, placing the magazine in the bushes.

The campus was locked down as a precaution because authorities did not initially know where the magazine came from, Ward said.

The student cooperated with school officials, according to the release. The school district couldn’t release student or discipline information Monday, spokesperson Sheryl Garman said.

Officers checked the area where the student initially found the magazine, in the area of Clearwater Court in Merced, and encountered two men who were “looking on the ground for something,” Ward said.

One of the men, 30-year-old Bobby Franco, fled when officers tried to contact him, Ward said. He was caught and found to be in possession of ammunition matching the same type of bullets found in the magazine at the school, Ward said.

A Merced County Probation K9 unit was called and authorities found a 9mm semi-automatic handgun hidden under leaves in the area.

Ward said the student likely wouldn’t have been arrested if he had not lied about where he found the magazine.

“He was innocent other than the fact he lied about finding it on campus,” Ward said. “This is where it’s just frustrating. Here’s a good kid who didn’t know what to do and made a poor choice.”