A Santa Clara County sheriff’s deputy is on paid leave after a child found his badge and a loaded handgun that were apparently left behind at a South Lake Tahoe, Calif., rental home, authorities said.
Jon Segarra said his 9-year-old son, Josh, found a Ruger .380 pistol in a bedroom drawer 10 minutes after the Hayward family arrived at an Airbnb rental near the Heavenly ski resort over the weekend.
At first, Segarra thought the weapon was fake. But after inspecting it, he realized it was real and loaded. Segarra said he took the gun apart and called the South Lake Tahoe Police Department.
“My kids are pretty disciplined,” Segarra said. “They know if they see a firearm or anything like that, especially if it’s not at our place, not to touch it.”
The gun is the personal weapon of a deputy who apparently left the items behind while staying at the property, according to the Santa Clara County Sheriff’s Office. The deputy is on paid administrative leave while the department investigates. He was not identified.
Santa Clara County sheriff’s Sgt. Michael Low referred additional questions to the South Lake Tahoe Police Department late Monday. Neither agency returned requests for comment Tuesday.
“We are thankful no one was hurt as a result of the incident,” the Sheriff’s Office said in a statement, according to Bay Area station KTVU-TV.
Airbnb said it also is investigating the incident.
After filing a police report, the family of nine looked for another place to stay for the night.
“My kids were pretty distraught,” said Segura, who identified himself as a gun owner. “There were like so many questions that came up on our mind. Why is it here? Is it stolen? Is someone going to come back here and look for it?”
Segarra said Airbnb offered the family $250 to rent a room elsewhere, but they had no luck finding a suitable place, even after driving around until 2 a.m. Instead the family camped out in the rental’s living room.
“We wanted to start off the new year for the kids,” he said. “Now this is their memory. It’s kind of crazy.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.