Several teenagers arrested in senior prank at Osceola High School in Largo

LARGO — For the second time this week, authorities descended on a high school in the wee hours of the morning to stop a crime, only to discover something far less sinister:

A senior prank.

But in this case, unlike the previous incident at Plant High School in Tampa, several teenagers were arrested. They were all handcuffed and eventually booked.

Just after 1 a.m. Wednesday, campus police heard voices inside Osceola High School and called the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office.

Ten deputies, three police dogs and a helicopter — to protect the deputies — responded to the high school at 9751 98th St. N. As deputies arrived on campus, the group of teenagers scattered, said Pinellas Sheriff's Office spokesman Sgt. Tom Nestor.

Deputies said the teenagers, most of whom are students at Osceola, planned to line the schools' hallways with 4,000 styrofoam cups filled with water. Deputies said they entered the school with a key.

The teenagers didn't get very far — deputies chased them down.

At least seven teenagers — including two juveniles — were arrested and charged with trespassing, a misdemeanor. Deputies said there were more people involved.

"They could have been charged with felonies," said Nestor. "But when they [deputies] got down to the bottom of it and realized it was a school prank...they charged them with misdemeanors."

It's up to the state attorney's office to decide whether to prosecute.

The school is investigating the prank and whether there will be any consequences, such as preventing the students from walking at graduation, said Pinellas County School District spokeswoman Andrea Zahn.

The Osceola prank comes after a similar senior prank on Monday.

Twenty Plant High School seniors had begun "Saran wrapping" the high school campus. The students also had dead fish, which they planned to wrap into the plastic.

A little after midnight, Tampa police responded with a show of force — nearly a dozen officers and a helicopter.

Police detained sixteen Plant High students until parents came to retrieve them. The students likely won't be punished because there was no damage to the school, said Linda Cobbe, the Hillsborough school district spokeswoman. The students did not actually go inside the school.

Nestor said Pinellas County Sheriff's Office deputies responded to the incident as if it were a felony burglary in progress.

Something bad could have happened.

A deputy could have been struck as he or she was responding to the call, a dog could have bitten one of the kids, or deputies may have been prevented from responding to a more urgent crime.

"It's like pulling the fire alarm when there's no fire," he said.

Several teenagers arrested in senior prank at Osceola High School in Largo 05/25/11 [Last modified: Wednesday, May 25, 2011 8:35pm]

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