SAN DIEGO - A Farb Middle School teacher was placed on administrative leave Tuesday and facing a possible felony charge for allegedly bringing a gun and a knife to work, possibly as a means of defending himself in the event of a shooting or other violence at the campus, authorities reported.
Seventh- and eighth-grade English instructor Ned Carter Walker was taken into custody in a parking lot at the Tierrasanta school Monday morning and booked into county jail, according to San Diego Unified School District officials. He later posted $50,000 bail and was released on his own recognizance.
San Diego Unified School District Police Department Chief Rueben Littlejohn told reporters Walker's alleged decision to carry a loaded .380-caliber pistol and a knife with a 2 1/2-inch blade onto the school grounds may have been well-intentioned, but was nonetheless illegal and contrary to district regulations.
"We speculate that, based on reports from staff members, this employee had somewhat of an infatuation with guns and brought the weapon to the school to protect himself in the event of a violent intruder," Littlejohn said during a briefing late Tuesday morning.
Courtney Rizzo, interim principal at the La Cuenta Drive school, told parents in a letter sent Monday that administrators were limited in the amount of information they could release on the allegations against Walker.
Rizzo stated in the letter:
"I understand that you may want more information but due to the fact that this is an active investigation, we are not at liberty to release any additional information or details. Our focus is to continue to ensure that our students are safe, the learning process goes on as usual, and we work with the proper authorities."
The school says a substitute teacher has been assigned to his classes while authorities continue their investigation.
Some of Walker’s students said they were not surprised to learn he’d brought a gun to school.
Eighth grader David Brown told 10News Walker was a good teacher, who tried to reassure his students about their safety.
"He always told us if we were in his class we’d be safe and stuff, if like lockdowns happened or something … so we wouldn’t need to worry.”
According to Brown, Walker often told students he believed teachers should be able to arm themselves.
Natalie Dennis, who is the mother of another student, said she was troubled when she learned of Walker’s arrest, adding that her son said Walker "always talked about knives and firearms and whatnot."
One of Walker's neighbors in Mira Mesa told 10News Walker, the father of two young children, is very "pro-gun," but Trudi Johnson-DeLiso said she was flabbergasted to learn he was arrested for taking a gun to school.
Johnson-DeLiso called Walker a good father who had several "strong characteristics" and at times was unusual.
10News learned that the school's acting principal received a tip and called the police.
Counselors was made available to students Tuesday, school officials said, in light of the incident.
10News checked with the San Diego County Sheriff's Department to see if Walker had a permit to carry a concealed weapon, but he does not. 10News also learned the gun he was carrying at the time of his arrest was a loaded .380-caliber Colt Lightning semi-automatic pistol with a seven-round magazine.
No one answered Walker’s door, but a man answered the phone number in his name and told 10News reporter Allison Ash, "I'm sorry, I have no comment" before hanging up.
10News learned Walker is married to another San Diego Unified School District teacher.
A conviction on either or both of the felony charges -- one per weapon -- that Walker could face in the case would be grounds for dismissal, district spokesman Jack Brandais said.