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9-year-old finds loaded Santa Clara County Sheriff deputy's handgun in Airbnb

Fiona Kelliher and Robert Salonga, The Mercury News on

Published in News & Features

SAN JOSE, Calif. -- Friday night, Jon Segarra and his family arrived at their Airbnb in South Lake Tahoe after a four-hour sojourn from the Bay Area, looking to get started on a snowy weekend.

As Segarra, a Hayward, Calif., resident, unloaded the car with his girlfriend and sister, the six kids between them ran pell-mell into the house. While the kids squabbled over sleeping arrangements and searched the house for board games, Segarra's 9-year-old son Joshua, flanked by his two younger siblings and cousin, opened a bedside drawer.

But instead of a checkers set or deck of cards, they found a badge. And a loaded handgun.

Both apparently belong to a Santa Clara County Sheriff deputy who previously stayed at the home, and left behind the police badge and .380 Ruger pistol, which officials say was his personal firearm.

"They were all like, "Oh, my god," Segarra said.

The Sheriff's Office confirmed Monday that both items belonged to one of its deputies, and has launched an internal investigation into the discovery. Late Monday afternoon, the office added via a statement that the deputy in question had been placed on paid administrative leave.

 

Hearing the kids shouting for him, Segarra rushed in and felt a flash of panic as he realized the gun was real -- and with a full magazine. A registered gun owner himself, he said he unloaded the Ruger in the kitchen and called South Lake Tahoe police, who arrived within about 10 minutes.

That same night, the Santa Clara County Sheriff's Office was informed that the gun and badge belong to one of their deputies, spokesperson Sgt. Michael Low said Monday. He added that in addition to the internal investigation, the Sheriff's Office working with South Lake Tahoe police to explain how the gun was left there.

Low also affirmed that that the handgun was not an agency-issued weapon. There is no evidence that it was stolen, and a source familiar with the incident said the deputy, who stayed at the rental property earlier this month, realized he had forgotten the items but could not alert the property managers or Airbnb before Segarra's family got there.

After the shock wore off, horrifying scenarios reeled through Segarra's mind -- first, whether there were any more weapons in the house, and second, what could have happened if the scene had played out just a little differently.

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