Three kids attending a summer day camp found a loaded shotgun hidden under the edge of a Santa Rosa elementary school building, and police Wednesday said the weapon likely was left by a gang member.

The three children, ages 10, 12 and 13, on Wednesday were at a camp at Lincoln Elementary on West Ninth Street and told a counselor of their find. The counselor alerted police, said Santa Rosa Sgt. Eric Goldschlag.

Police officers retrieved the pistol-grip shotgun, which was loaded. It had been left on the ground, within reach, just under the skirt-edge of one of the campus buildings.

The kids had been looking for marbles when they found the weapon.

“We’ve had information over the last couple of years of gang members hiding weapons in the area,” Goldschlag said. “Officers and the Sheriff’s Office have located weapons before, hidden in landscaping at West Ninth and Rockwell,” across the street from the school.

Weapons also have also been found in landscaping in the southern Santa Rosa neighborhood of Moorland Avenue and Neville Way, he said. “Unfortunately it looks like that trend is continuing.”

Both neighborhoods have been known to be high gang crime areas.

Officers Wednesday were attempting to trace the ownership and possession of the shotgun. How long it had been tucked under the edge of the school building wasn’t known.

The kids initially saw the weapon Tuesday evening and told a parent, but police weren’t called. The call came from the school Wednesday at about 10:15 a.m.

Goldschlag said the kids did the right thing by telling an adult, but he encouraged people to immediately call police when a weapon is found.

You can reach Staff Writer Randi Rossmann at 521-5412 or