TAHOE, Calif. - A Santa Clara County Sheriff’s deputy who left his personal, loaded handgun and his badge behind in a South Lake Tahoe Airbnb rental is on paid adminstrative leave after the weapon was discovered by a group of children.
The sheriff's department has not released the name of the deputy but said he is on paid administrative leave until the internal investigation is complete.
Jon Segarra said his 9-year-old son Josh and three other children found the gun in a bedroom drawer just 10 minutes after they arrived at the home near the Heavenly ski resort.
"They got curious and started looking in the drawers,” said Segarra. “It’s an Airbnb. They do not know what is going to be in there. They called us and said they found a gun and a police badge. Our first impression was thinking it was fake.”
Segarra said his children quickly alerted him and did not touch the gun. Segarra called the South Lake Tahoe Police Department, and officers picked up the badge and the gun, a Ruger 380 handgun with a fully loaded clip.
The Santa Clara County Sheriff’s Office confirmed to KTVU that the weapon and badge belong to a current deputy and they don't believe the items were stolen. Sheriff's spokesman Sgt. Michael Low said the weapon is the deputy's personal gun. Apparently the deputy stayed at the Ruby Way rental property recently and left the gun behind by mistake.
In a statement, the sheriff's department said, "we are working with the South Lake Tahoe Police Department to determine all the facts and have already launched an internal investigation. Most importantly, we are thankful no one was hurt as a result of the incident.”
But Segarra said he wants answers as to what exactly happened.
“Imagine if they were playing with it, it would have been some of the things, I don’t want to even imagine,” Segarra said. “I’m very angry about it. My kids found a loaded weapon in their room.”
Josh Segarra was with his younger siblings and a cousin when he found the gun.
“At first I was like why is there a gun in there,” the boy said. “I was scared. We were all scared that night.”
TurnKey Vacation Rentals, the property manager, also sent KTVU a statement that said in part, “This particular situation is highly unusual, and one we haven't encountered in hosting more than one million guests.”
Airbnb, which has a policy barring undisclosed or unsafely stored weapons at rental properties, said it is also investigating.
The Segarra family is thankful nothing worse happened when the gun was discovered.
“I feel happy we are all alive,” said Josh Segarra.
“It just freaks me out that I still have no idea how it got there,” he said. “I just want some answers and I haven't gotten it yet.”
The family was given a full refund for his stay, but Jon Segarra said it’s not about the money. He wants answers and, depending on the outcome, he wants the deputy to face consequences.
KTVU's Kristin J. Bender contributed to this report.