Substitute accused of bringing gun to Shelby County school says he’s carried concealed weapons before while teaching
WADDY, Ky. (WAVE) - A Shelby County substitute teacher arrested for bringing a loaded gun to an elementary school on Friday told police it’s “not the first time” he had a concealed firearm while teaching.
Zach R. Stearns, 62, was charged with unlawful possession of a weapon on school property by the Shelby County Sheriff’s Department following Friday’s incident at Heritage Elementary School.
According to an arrest report, staff contacted the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office for suspicious activity at the school.
Staff told police that one of the substitute teachers who was working possibly had a concealed firearm while in the building.
Captain Kyle Tipton with the Shelby County Sheriff’s Department said he met with Stearns shortly after 2 p.m. inside the principal’s office.
Stearns was patted down and a full size Glock 9mm was found inside his waistband. Police said while the firearm did not have a round in the chamber, it was equipped with a magazine with 14 live rounds.
The weapon was removed and secured by the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office.
Stearns gave a statement to police, saying he had substituted at various Shelby County Public Schools such as Martha Layne Collins, Marnel Moorman, East Middle and West Middle School for six months.
He told police that he “carries his firearm everywhere he goes” and did not realize he had the gun in his possession until after he already entered the building,” according to the report.
Stearns also told police he had a few occasions he could have went back to secure his gun inside his vehicle, but did not.
He was also aware of the signs on the outside of the building prohibiting weapons on the property, stating he “did not intend to alarm anyone.”
The report states Stearns admitted it was not the first time he had carried a concealed weapon while substitute teaching with Shelby County Public Schools.
The school district said Stearns’ employment was suspended pending an investigation.
While an HR member said they did not have the authority to fire Stearns on site, they advised it “was a strong possibility” it would happen in the future.
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