LAND O'LAKES — Some Pine View Middle students stumbled onto an awful sight at their school bus stop Friday morning: the body of a 19-year-old man who had committed suicide.
"My son called and said, 'Mom, there's a dead man at the bus stop,' " said Rebecca Reyes, whose son Joshua, 13, was among the six or seven students who saw the dead man on a covered wooden bench, with a bullet wound in his head and a gun in his hand.
"I ran down there in my pajamas and by the time I got there, the bus was picking the kids up and driving away," Reyes said.
Another parent stopped the bus, but the driver told her he was taking the students to school. Once at school, the students were given counseling and some were picked up by worried parents.
"I think the driver should have pulled over and called 911," Reyes said. "But I have to give the school credit, they had crisis counselors there."
School officials said the bus driver alerted the bus garage by radio about the incident, and someone from the garage called 911.
Pine View Middle went into lockdown after the incident, which happened about 8:10 a.m. near the Chelsea Meadows apartments at 4453 Alpine Road.
Pasco deputies say the man shot himself at the covered bench, which is used by Pine View students waiting for the bus.
Deputies say the man, who has not yet been identified, had the word "temporary" written on the front of his neck in black magic marker, which was found next to him.
He had also written on the bench, something to the effect that his body was only temporary in this world.
Two cans of Natural Ice beer were next to him — one opened, one sealed. Deputies found another empty can on the ground behind the bench.
Reyes said her son told her the kids initially thought the man was asleep. But when Joshua got closer, he saw the blood and the gun.
"He used a friend's cell phone and called me," Reyes said. "He told them he wanted to call his mom, because she was an adult and would know what to do. The kids did the right thing."
Pine View Middle principal Kim Anderson said the school went into lockdown for the first 30 minutes of the day. Pine View Elementary and Sanders Elementary also went into lockdown as a precautionary measure.
"We didn't know at the time if he had shot himself, or if he was shot by someone else, or how he died," Anderson said.
After the Sheriff's Office determined the case to be a suicide, the lockdown was lifted.
For the vast majority of the students, the situation was a non-issue, she said.
"Through the rest of the day, the teachers were teaching and the kids were learning," Anderson said.
The kids who were affected got individual counseling, and the school staff plans to keep tabs on their progress in the coming days. The school also planned to send home notes and use automatic phone messages to inform parents about what happened.
Reyes said her son spent several hours with a counselor and said he was "okay" when he got home. "He said he just hopes that picture he has in his head doesn't stay with him," she said.
Reyes also said that when her son and some of the other students were in with grief counselors, they said a prayer for the dead man.
Times staff writers Jeffrey S. Solochek and Molly Moorhead contributed to this report.