VIRGINIA BEACH-- A loaded gun was found on a Virginia Beach school playground Tuesday morning.

According to police spokesman Jimmy Barnes, around 10 a.m. a semi-automatic pistol was found in dark rubber mulch around the jungle gym by students at Star of the Sea School.

The gun is being processed by police for prints and they are checking to see who it might have belonged to or if it was stolen.

Police now say that Monday night they responded to a burglary in the 300 block of 15th street. They chased the suspect but weren't able to apprehend him.

Police believe the suspect may have ditched the gun at the school and are investigating if the two incidents may be related.

Barnes says there is no determined threat at the school.

Barnes says the school was not placed on lockdown and students were not told what happened, however they increased patrol presence around the school.

The following letter was sent to parents by the principal:

Dear Parents,

I am writing to let you know of an incident at school this morning. The PreK students were going out for recess on their playground around 10:00am this morning. After only a few minutes 3 of the students ran to the teachers and reported seeing a gun on the playground. There was a gun lying on the mulch, right across the street from Fr. Steve's house. The teachers immediately lined the children up and took them inside. None of the children touched the gun. None of the other children were outside at the time or were aware of what was going on.

It was immediately reported to the office and the police were called. An officer came and confirmed that is was a real gun and took it to have it analyzed. We have asked for a police officer to be here the rest of the day to monitor the school grounds and just be a presence here.

The PreK and Kindergarten teachers routinely scan the playground each day that they take the children outside. In this instance the gun was hard to see lying on the dark mulch. Mr. Wall, a Norfolk police officer, had been in to speak to the PreK children about gun safety and awareness earlier this year. We are very proud of our PreK students. They ran from it and knew to report it immediately and not to touch it.

I know that this is a very sensitive time and we are all concerned about the safety of our children. We have already been evaluating and up-dating our safety procedures. The playground will be completely scanned with a walk-through each morning before any children are allowed out. We will also include the entire perimeter of the school to make sure that the grounds are safe and clear.

Please contact me if you have any questions. We are always open to your suggestions and ideas when it comes to keeping our children safe.

God bless,

Dr. C. Whisman

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