Woman charged for putting gun in child’s backpack

Local News
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An Indiana County woman is facing multiple charges after State Police say she put a gun in an 11 year olds backpack.

Police are looking for 23 year old Riley Jayne Merlo of Creekside, PA after discovering a gun in the backpack of her 11 year old relative. 

The incident took place back on September 17th when police received a report of a student being discovered with a gun at St. Bernard Regional Catholic School in White Township, Indiana County. 

Troopers determined the gun to be a fully-loaded Ruger LCR .38 Special revolver. School officials told police that the gun was secured without incident and the student was being cooperative. There were no reports of any threats having been made and all indications were that the student did not have any prior knowledge of the firearm being in his backpack until arriving at school and discovering it upon searching the backpack.

During the investigation,  the gun was also found to have been reported as stolen and was not loaded at the time that it was stolen. The gun was reported stolen by the child’s guardian who reported it stolen two days prior on September 15th. 

The police allege that Merlo, who is a family member of the student, stole the firearm from the student’s guardian’s vehicle on or about September 14th  and then placed the firearm into the student’s backpack during a visit to the student’s home on September 16th.

Merlo is facing the following charges:

1. Theft by Unlawful Taking or Disposition (F2), one count

2. Causing or Risking Catastrophe (F3), one count

3. Recklessly Endangering Another Person (M2), one count

4. Theft from a Motor Vehicle (M2), one count

There is a warrant for Merlo’s arrest and anyone with information on her whereabouts is asked to immediately notify Troop A, Indiana at 724-357-1960.

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