"He showed the weapon to a couple of students, and those students, knowing that it's wrong, immediately went and contacted administrators," said Gwinnett County Schools spokesman Jorge Quintana.
With his mother's permission, eighth-grader Brandon Soto told Channel 2's Richard Elliot what he saw when authorities entered the classroom to remove the student.
"I saw him get pulled out of my third-period class," said Soto. "One assistant principal and the principal came into the classroom and pulled him out." He said he found out the reason later from other classmates.
"He was showing off his gun to everybody, and I was just like, whoa," he said. "I got somewhat scared, but I was shocked, really." Police are not identifying the student since he is a juvenile. Students told Elliot that he said he brought the gun to school for protection and never threatened to harm anyone specific.
School officials are applauding the other students who, once they saw the weapon, alerted authorities.
"I would like to thank our students who came forward with information about what they had seen," wrote Five Forks Middle School Principal Mary Hensien in a letter sent home to parents. "We are very fortunate that the vast majority of our students follow our school rules, and a situation like this is extremely rare."
Soto echoed those sentiments and told Elliot he was very relieved when he heard his classmates had turned in the student with the gun.
"I think they did a good job," he said. "This probably won't happen again. I hope so."