CLEARWATER — A 15-year-old Clearwater High School student was arrested on a felony charge of carrying a concealed weapon on school grounds Tuesday after he was found to have a semi-automatic handgun in class.
Police said Markazell D. Hodges was confronted by a school resource officer, who pulled him out of class and confiscated the .380 pistol. The incident led to a school lockdown for about 10 minutes, beginning at 12:34 p.m.
The school resource officer was told by another student that Hodges had the firearm. As multiple police squad cars converged on the campus at 540 S Hercules Ave., students were herded into classrooms and the cafeteria and kept there as a safety precaution.
Student Chris Dacier said he and others were puzzled about what caused the abrupt lockdown during the lunch hour, and only later heard that a gun had been discovered on campus. "I was in the cafeteria," Dacier said. "I was just wondering what was going on. Then they had us close the blinds, and that's when I realized it was serious."
The gun was unloaded, though Hodges also had ammunition with him, police said.
A second male student was also detained by police, in handcuffs, in the back of a cruiser in front of the school on Tuesday afternoon. That student was released into the custody of an adult man who arrived at the school. Police have not yet identified the student.
Clearwater High Principal Keith Mastorides informed parents of the incident in a recorded phone message that was sent out Tuesday afternoon. He said the school was "briefly compelled by the Clearwater Police Department to go into a lock down" that was "due to reports of an identified student with a weapon on our campus."
He added, "Rest assured, we followed protocol and policy to ensure your child's safety."
Dawn Tayor, a Clearwater woman who was picking up her son from the high school when the lockdown commenced, said she was concerned to learn that a firearm had been brought on campus.
"I don't approve of it, at all," Tayor said. "Where did the kid get the gun from? That's the question."
Peter Jamison can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (727) 445-4157.