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St. Petersburg High student's arrest in gun incident not his first

ST. PETERSBURG — A St. Petersburg High School student arrested this week on a charge of bringing a gun to school in his backpack was already on probation for prior crimes, including carrying a concealed weapon, authorities said Friday.

Dominic Smith, 15, had been arrested twice in 2009. In February, St. Petersburg police charged him with grand theft and dealing in stolen property after he allegedly stole another student's cell phone and sold it.

Those charges, both felonies, were dropped when the 14-year-old who owned the phone refused to cooperate with prosecutors, police spokesman Bill Proffitt said.

Smith also was arrested in October after a Pinellas County sheriff's deputy chased a stolen car that crashed into a Progress Energy power pole. Smith, who was a passenger, was captured while trying to run off, sheriff's spokesman Tom Nestor said.

Smith was carrying brass knuckles and a knife, which led to a misdemeanor charge of carrying concealed weapons, Nestor said. Smith also was charged with misdemeanor trespassing for riding in the car, plus obstruction. He pleaded guilty to all three charges Tuesday and received probation.

Pinellas County school officials declined to comment Friday on how Smith might have been disciplined for the February cell-phone incident or his October off-campus arrest. Student disciplinary records are confidential, school spokeswoman Andrea Zahn said.

The Code of Student Conduct allows for suspension or expulsion of students convicted of off-campus felonies, but makes no mention of misdemeanors.

On Thursday, a teacher thought Smith was behaving suspiciously and sent him to the administrative office, St. Petersburg police said. Smith arrived at the office without the backpack he had been wearing. When school officials went looking for the backpack, Smith ran off.

Teachers kept students locked in classrooms for about 40 minutes until the school's police officer found the backpack with a .22-caliber semiautomatic pistol inside, Proffitt said.

Smith was later arrested at home. Police said he told them he had been threatened and took the gun to school for protection.

According to the code of conduct, bringing a gun onto school grounds leads to an automatic 10-day suspension and a recommendation that the School Board expel the student for a least a year.

St. Petersburg High student's arrest in gun incident not his first 01/08/10 [Last modified: Friday, January 8, 2010 11:45pm]
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