LAKEWOOD — The two boys charged with having a handgun on board an Ocean County school bus Tuesday were using it as "protection" and brought it to school before, according to the district's school superintendent.

Lakewood police said that two boys in the fourth and fifth grades at the Oak Street Elementary School were charged with multiple weapons violations for bringing a loaded .22 caliber handgun onto a school bus. The 9-year-old boy put the gun into the 10-year-old's backpack as they rode on the bus, according to police.

The boys are both charged with possession of a weapon, possession of a weapon for an unlawful purpose and the possession of a weapon on school grounds.

Security video captured the boys sitting in seats just behind the bus driver, both loading a magazine with bullets, putting it into the weapon, and then placing it into the backpack.

Police said their investigation is ongoing into how the boys got the gun.

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Laura Winters told the Lakewood Board of Education at Tuesday night's meeting that police told her the boys had been bringing the gun to school as a means of "protection," according to a Lakewood Scoop report.

Winters did not disclose what the boys needed protection from or how long they had been transporting the gun.

Winters recommended to the Board that metal detectors, already in place at Lakewood High School and Lakewood Middle School, be installed at the district's middle schools.

Messages for Lakewood Police and Winters have not yet been returned.

Contact reporter Dan Alexander at Dan.Alexander@townsquaremedia.com or via Twitter @DanAlexanderNJ.

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