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Loaded gun found in sandbox

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San Francisco police are investigating whether a loaded handgun found by a group of children in a sandbox at the Visitacion Valley Playground on Tuesday was used in a shooting in The City over the weekend.

Police spokesman Officer Boaz Mariles said some children found the pistol, which was loaded with its hammer cocked back, in a sandbox at the playground in the 200 block of Leland Avenue at about 4:20 p.m.

The children told adults about the gun and police officers then responded to the playground, Mariles said. Officers secured the weapon and processed the scene.

Mariles said normally a custodian cleans out the sandbox at 9:30 every weekday morning, but the custodian was out on Monday and did not perform the sweep.

He said police will fingerprint the weapon and investigate its ballistics to determine whether the weapon was used in any recent shootings, including a one that occurred Saturday at the intersection of Wilde Avenue and Rutland Street, about a mile away from the playground. One person sustained a non-life-threatening injury in that shooting and no arrests have been made.

Mariles said the children’s discovery could have ended horrifically if they hadn’t immediately turned the gun over to adults.

“We’re just glad a tragedy was averted,” he said. “We’re lucky.”