NORFOLK, MASS. (WHDH) - A King Philip Middle School bus driver is facing criminal charges after police say he dropped a loaded handgun on his bus and middle schoolers found the weapon.

Norfolk police officers say the driver, later identified by police as 65-year-old David Tripp, dropped the .45-caliber Smith & Wesson while cleaning the back of the bus after dropping off a group of elementary school students.

About a dozen middle schoolers later found it when they got on the bus, according to a joint release issued by Police Chief Charles Stone, Norfolk Public Schools Superintendent Ingrid Allardi and King Philip Regional School District Superintendent Paul Zinni.

“We are shocked and appalled that this type of situation has occurred within our district,” Superintendent Zinni said at a press conference Friday.

There were seven rounds in the gun but the chamber was empty.

None of the children touched the firearm.

After hearing the commotion, Tripp allegedly walked to the back of the bus, placed the gun back into his pocket, and continued on with the route without reporting the incident, police said.

He was arrested at his home and is due to be arraigned Monday in Wrentham District Court on charges of reckless endangerment of a child, improper storage of a firearm near a minor, intimidation of a witness/juror/court official, and carrying a firearm on a campus.

His license to carry a firearm was also suspended.

School administrators will be in contact with the families of all students who were on the bus and school counselors will be made available for students next week.

“This is a deeply disturbing situation in which an employee entrusted with the care and transportation of school children allegedly put them in danger by not only carrying a firearm on a school bus but being so reckless as to lose it and allow a child to find it,” Superintendent Zinni said. “This was an incredibly dangerous situation that could have turned tragic in the blink of an eye.”

No additional information was immediately available.

This is a developing story; stay with 7NEWS on-air and online for the latest updates.

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