WESLEY CHAPEL — Deputies acted quickly and apprehended three teenagers at a Wesley Chapel Publix after receiving a tip that the boys were showing off handguns on Snapchat from inside the store restroom.
A video posted to the social media channel Tuesday afternoon showed two teens waving the barrels of semi-automatic handguns toward the camera lens and racking the slides. Someone forwarded the video to the Pasco County Sheriff’s Office and deputies responded to the Publix at 5400 Bruce B. Downs Blvd.
Body camera video released by the Sheriff’s Office shows deputies approaching Publix managers and describing the tip they’d received. Deputies get directions to three people resembling the suspects and confront them in the beer and wine section within a minute of entering the store.
The video shows deputies, with weapons drawn, speaking with the three teens and frisking them as they stand. Deputies seize two concealed handguns, handcuff the teens and lead them out of the store.
Two of the boys are 16, from Clearwater and Largo, and one is 15, from St. Petersburg. The Times is not identifying them because of their age.
The Clearwater teen stole the gun he was carrying, a Sig Sauer P238, during a vehicle burglary in Wesley Chapel just hours before he was apprehended at Publix, according to an arrest report. The gun was taken from the vehicle along with credit cards and a passport between 7:15 p.m. and 9:15 p.m. Monday, the report said.
The teen was also found with two of the stolen credit cards in his possession, and a background check showed he was being sought under six juvenile pickup orders, the report said. He was arrested on charges including carrying a concealed weapon, delinquent in possession of a firearm and burglary.
The Largo teen said he got his gun, a Sig Sauer P228, from a friend and considered throwing it then running from the deputies, according to an arrest report. He had previously been convicted as a juvenile of charges including battery on a law enforcement officer, grand theft motor vehicle and burglary. He faces charges of carrying a concealed firearm and delinquent in possession of a firearm.
The St. Petersburg teen was arrested on a charge of delinquent in possession of ammunition and resisting arrest. A round of ammunition was found in his backpack and he refused to give deputies his name, an arrest report said. He had been convicted as a juvenile earlier on a charge of aggravated assault with a firearm.