Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Sunlake High student claims to be armed, but no weapons found

LAND O'LAKES — A 15-year-old student at Sunlake High School bragged to a girl that he was carrying weapons, triggering a lockdown Friday morning and flooding the campus with dozens of sheriff's deputies.

The student, though, was not armed and told authorities his comment was "taken out of context," said Pasco sheriff's Capt. James Mallo.

The school remained on lockdown for several hours while deputies and police dogs swept the campus to make sure there was no danger. The lockdown was lifted shortly before 1 p.m., and the student was taken to the juvenile assessment center.

Nearby, Rushe Middle, Oakstead Elementary, Imagine charter school and Rasmussen College campuses were also put on lockdown during the morning.

The student, whose name authorities did not release, faces a misdemeanor charge of disrupting a school function, Sheriff's Lt. J.R. Law said.

Sunlake principal Steve Williams said he had not determined what type of disciplinary action the school would take. District policy sets the maximum suspension at 10 days and allows for possible expulsion.

"We do take a very dim light of this kind of action," Williams said.

The girl reported the student's comment to the school resource officer. The student, who wore a long black trench coat, was in class when authorities confronted him. He admitted making the statement, Mallo said.

Sunlake students, locked in their classrooms, immediately began tweeting about what was going on. "So a kid tried shootin up sunlake today…," one read. "Cops galore at Sunlake," read another. They also texted and called their parents, setting off another wave of alarm.

Despite the rumors, deputies found "no evidence there was ever a weapon here," said Williams, who praised deputies' rapid response.

He said parents were kept informed with phone calls home and through his Twitter account, which feeds into the school district's website.

Law said after the incident that rushing to the school in a true emergency "is one of the worst things a parent can do." It slows law enforcement's response time and forces the agency to waste resources on crowd control, he said, adding the best way to receive information is to leave good contact information with the school.

But parents who camped outside the school refused to leave. They said they had heard nothing from the school district or from deputies and were relying on their kids for details.

"They should have had someone out here to at least give us an update," said Scott Bell.

Samantha Wallace was on her way to work when her daughter, Kristen, texted her about the lockdown, saying she and her classmates were sitting by the door in case anyone tried to come in.

"I did 100 getting back to her," said Wallace, who also pulled her 11-year-old son out of Rushe.

When authorities gave the all clear, an army of parents marched to the school office to claim their kids.

Contact Lisa Buie at lbuie@tampabay.com or (813) 909-4604. Follow @Lisa_Buie.

Sunlake High student claims to be armed, but no weapons found 08/29/14 [Last modified: Friday, August 29, 2014 8:37pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Bucs' Mike Evans, DeSean Jackson kneel during national anthem

    Bucs

    Bucs receivers Mike Evans and DeSean Jackson both kneeled during the national anthem in protest before Sunday's game at the Vikings, two days after President Donald Trump made critical remarks about NFL …

    Bucs receivers Mike Evans and DeSean Jackson both kneeled during the national anthem in protest before Sunday's game at the Vikings. [LOREN ELLIOTT | Times]
  2. Authorities ID man killed in Clearwater Beach boating crash; Girl, 4, still in critical condition

    Briefs

    An Altamonte Springs man died and a 4-year-old girl remains in critical condition Sunday morning after their personal watercraft collided with a boat in the Intracoastal Waterway near Clearwater Beach just before 5 p.m.

  3. 'If anyone can hear us … help.' Puerto Rico's mayors describe 'horror in the streets'

    World

    SAN JUAN, PUERTO RICO - In the northern Puerto Rican town of Vega Baja, the floodwaters reached more than 10 feet. Stranded residents screamed "save me, save me," using the lights in their cellphones to help rescue teams find them in the darkness, the town's mayor said.

  4. My AP Top 25 ballot: FSU out, USF, Florida Gators back in

    Blogs

    Florida State coach Jimbo Fisher still thinks he can have a good team, as I wrote in today's Tampa Bay Times. Maybe he's right.

  5. Forecast: Scattered thunderstorms in Tampa Bay; Maria could affect Carolinas

    Weather

    Scattered thunderstorms will threaten the Tampa Bay area Sunday, but most of the area will see sunshine.

    Scattered thunderstorms threaten Tampa Bay on Sunday. [Courtesy 10News WTSP]