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High school student fights school resource officer in Pasco for third time in two weeks

The 15-year-old boy shoved the school resource officer, spewed profanities and threatened to kill the deputy stationed at Ridgewood High School, according to the Pasco County Sheriff's Office.

For the third time in two weeks, a student has been arrested for attacking a school resource officer. Last month two other boys — one at River Ridge High, another at Hudson High — were pepper-sprayed after brawling with deputies, authorities said.

Officials are concerned about the trend. Less than two months into the school year, Pasco has already seen more aggression against school resource officers than all of last year, when two deputies were attacked.

School officials and law enforcement say the difficult economy could be a factor.

"The reality is, we are a microcosm of society," said Lizette Alexander, director of student services for Pasco schools. "There are stressors out there with families experiencing economic and personal distress. And sometimes, that's reflected in our walls."

Although patrol deputies are prepared to back up school resource officers if needed, the deputies are trained to handle school violence, said Kevin Doll, sheriff's spokesman.

"Schools are more safe than what a deputy typically has to deal with on the street or in the detention center," Doll said. "But, the fact is, there's still a danger there."

The latest incident happened Oct. 2 at Ridgewood, where a teacher alerted Deputy Blake Swezey that a student left his office using profanity, according to a sheriff's report.

Fearing a physical confrontation with the boy, the teacher flagged Swezey down to help.

The boy told Swezey to "get the f--- out of my way," and pushed Swezey twice, the report said.

Swezey grabbed the boy, arrested him and escorted him back to his office, where the boy repeatedly said he would get a gun and shoot everyone, specifically mentioning his teacher and Swezey, the report said.

The boy, whose name was withheld because of his age, was charged with battery on a law enforcement officer.

The first incident this year happened Sept. 24 and involved a 16-year-old freshman who showed up at River Ridge High School while he was on suspension. When Deputy Arthur Morrison tried to escort the boy out of a crowded classroom, the teen pushed back and Morrison fell into a table, cutting his head, the Sheriff's Office said.

Morrison wrestled with the boy and doused him with pepper spray before another deputy arrived and pointed a Taser at the boy. The boy was charged with battery on school personnel, resisting arrest without violence and trespassing on school grounds.

Four days later, Dillen McFadden, an 18-year-old senior at Hudson High School, became disruptive in the commons at the school. Authorities say McFadden twice shoved Deputy John Watson, and when Watson pinned the student to the wall, McFadden punched the deputy, breaking his glasses and bruising his lip.

Watson blasted McFadden with pepper spray, the Sheriff's Office said, and McFadden picked up a chair and held it over his head as if he were going to hit the deputy with it. McFadden put the chair down when Watson unholstered his Taser.

McFadden was charged with battery on a law enforcement officer and resisting arrest with violence.

Lt. Brian Prescott, who supervises school resource officers, said he hopes these three attacks are an anomaly.

"Our message is clear," he said. "Respect other people's rights and the law and keep your hands to yourself, or you face severe legal and school consequences."

Camille C. Spencer can be reached at cspencer@sptimes.com or (813) 909-4609.

High school student fights school resource officer in Pasco for third time in two weeks 10/07/09 [Last modified: Wednesday, October 7, 2009 8:48pm]
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