NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- A veteran lifeguard stepped into action this week, after a 10-year-old girl found a loaded gun buried in the sand in the water at the beach at Coney Island.
As CBS 2's Tony Aiello reported, the girl found the 9mm handgun around 2 p.m. Monday at the beach, buried in the sand under about 2 feet of water.
The NYPD said the girl was playing on the beach and looking for sea shells when she found the gun. The girl made the discovery in front of Jonathan Boyce's lifeguard stand.
"A little girl runs out of the water with a gun in her hand saying, 'Look what I just found,'" Boyce recalled, speaking exclusively with CBS 2's Tracee Carrasco.
Trained to handle just about any situation on the beach, Boyce's first responder instincts kicked in. He immediately told the excited little girl to gently put the rusty 9mm gun down in the sand.
The five-year veteran kept onlookers back before his boss and the NYPD arrived.
"I had to stay calm and rational, and like, make the right decisions," he said.
The girl's mother couldn't believe it.
"Her mom comes up and like, 'Oh my God, this is supposed to be a beach,'" Boyce said.
Others at the beach were likewise shocked by the discovery.
"I would have a heart attack," said Mae Sowell of Coney Island. "You'd be surprised what you'd find out there in the water. Wow, wow."
"Besides the sea shells, apparently, there's a gun – scary; God forbid," said Anna Bei of Brighton Beach.
"I would be petrified that they would touch it, and I wouldn't even want to touch it," said Linda Talbot of Garden City, Long Island.
But Boyce's quick thinking paid off in a dangerous situation in which someone could have been hurt.
"It had a slug in the chamber, so little kids and guns, it could have been a lot worse," he explained.
The gun has been taken to the NYPD forensics lab. Investigators want to know if the gun was used in a crime and tossed into the ocean in an effort to get rid of the evidence.
It was a frightening find at a place so popular with families and children, where the only guns anyone wants to find shoot water at boardwalk carnival games.
City Councilman Mark Treyger (D-47th), who represents the area, said the discovery of the gun should be a wake-up call for the Department of Parks and Recreation. Treyger has demanded increased patrols at Coney Island and Brighton Beach.
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