Upper Darby police said a 16-year-old Philadelphia boy with a loaded gun in his backpack approached a family of four walking their daughter home from school this afternoon over a fight the girl had with another young woman earlier in the week.
Police Superintendent Michael Chitwood credited a nearby officer and the family for not only getting the boy to drop the bag but also apprehending him after he tried to flee on foot.
Chitwood said tensions have been brewing between groups of girls that attend Beverly Hills Middle School in Upper Darby and they escalated on Monday night when a fight broke out between the two factions of girls at a basketball game that was not associated with the school.
The parents of one of the 14-year-old girls involved were so afraid for her safety that they walked together, along with her brother, to pick the girl up from school today. The family of four was returning home around 3 p.m. when they were approached by a 16-year-old boy with a backpack on Bayard Road near Shirley, police said.
The boy, who is a homeschooled student from Southwest Philadelphia, said to the family as he began to reach into his backpack that a girl named "'Makiah said to bring this thing up,'" according to Chitwood.
At the same time, Upper Darby Ofc. Dave Ostein drove up on the scene and somebody yelled "I think he has a gun!" Chitwood said.
The boy dropped his bag and took off on foot. Ostein and the girl's family members chased the boy down. When officers opened the boy's bag they found a loaded .22-caliber revolver with an obliterated serial number inside, police said.
Chitwood said the boy has no prior arrests and he told police "some bullsh-t" story about a girl telling him to get the gun, which he claimed to have found in an alley.
"This could have been a very, very tragic event," Chitwood said. "Not only is he confronting kids, but he's confronting adults too."
Police are tracking the girls' feud on social media and Chitwood said the violence is escalating.
"We're starting to see more and more of these incidents involving young girls who are quote being defended by some male," he said. "It's absolute stupidity."
The 16-year-old boy has been charged with numerous violations of the uniform firearms act and has been sent to the county's juvenile detention facility in Lima.