A 16-year-old sophomore at Northeast High School in Pasadena was removed from school Friday morning when an administrator discovered he had a toy semi-automatic handgun that looked exactly like a police service revolver.
Police said they are unable to file criminal charges against the youth because the gun is a replica and incapable of firing a projectile.
The student was released into the custody of his parents. School officials say disciplinary action is pending.
Police said a student tipped off a school administrator, William Meyers, that the youth had a gun. The teen-ager gave the gun to Meyers on request.
Capt. Tom Shanahan, commander of the Eastern District station, said the boy told police he was holding the toy gun for another youth who wanted to threaten some other students.
Shanahan said the fake gun is the best replica he has ever seen. "I've never seen anything so scary looking."
"I was flabbergasted when I heard that," said Huntley Cross, special assistant to the superintendent of schools. "The officer said, 'My God, this looks just like the 9mm I'm carrying in my holster.' "
Shanahan said police are trying to find out where the replica came from and whether it can be bought in a store.
He said the fake weapon was made of metal, had a safety catch, an ammunition clip and the same weight as a police service revolver, a 9mm semi-automatic.
He said the replica is made of a cheaper metal and is painted in a cheaper finish than the weapons the police use. The barrel is filled in. Markings on the gun say, "Brixiaarms Model 92 Army."
"I don't know if such a weapon is made," Shanahan said. "It feels like a real gun, it even sounds like a real gun. If an officer saw this, he would have to to assume this is a real gun. I thought it was a real gun."
Shanahan said ballistics specialists will study the replica further because there is a possibility that the gun is real, but was modified so that it can't be fired.
The captain also said police will investigate to see whether criminal charges can be filed. If investigators discover the youth threatened someone with the replica, he could be charged. Threatening someone, even with a fake gun, is a crime.