ST. PETERSBURG — Students at St. Petersburg High School were locked in their classrooms for nearly an hour Thursday after a student brought a gun to school in his backpack and then fled, police said.
Dominic Smith, 15, was arrested at his home and charged with possessing a firearm on school grounds. According to police:
Administrators were monitoring the halls at about 10:25 a.m. when they noticed Smith wearing a backpack and acting suspiciously. Smith went to class but left a few minutes later with a pass from the teacher.
Officials stopped Smith and talked to him, then told him to go to the main office so they could continue speaking with him. He showed up without the backpack.
As school officials began searching for it, Smith fled. School officials put the school on "lockout'' status. When a school is on lockout, it continues to function normally, but teachers lock their classroom doors and the school is secured so no one is allowed to enter the campus.
The backpack was found hidden in some bushes on school grounds. The school's resource officer found a .22-caliber semiautomatic handgun inside the backpack. It had a bullet in the chamber and four rounds in the magazine.
Smith was arrested at his home at about 12:30 p.m. He told police he carried the gun to school for protection because someone had fired a gun at him the day before near his home. Smith said he did not report the incident to police.