SEFFNER — During a recent surprise equipment check, a supervisor expected to find a Glock pistol in Hillsborough school security Officer Leroy King’s holster.
Instead, deputies say, King was carrying a pellet gun.
“The supervisor began asking questions and (King) began formulating several different stories about where his firearm was,” Hillsborough Sheriff Chad Chronister said at a news conference Friday.
Investigators soon learned the truth. King, a 36-year-old Hillsborough school security employee assigned to Mango Elementary in Seffner, had pawned his duty-issue .40-caliber handgun six times between June 28 and Nov. 12, an investigation by the Sheriff’s Office found. He paid the pawn shop back on the previous occasions to recover the firearm.
He also pawned his ballistic vest for $125 on Oct. 18 and his TLR1 Streamlight weapon-mounted light for $50 on Nov. 12. The equipment is owned by the school district, which had called the Sheriff’s Office to investigate. A deputy recovered both from the pawn shop on Thursday.
During the times he didn’t have the weapon, he carried a pellet gun, Chronister said.
King was arrested Friday and charged with eight counts of providing false information to a pawn broker. He said he pawned the equipment because he was having financial troubles.
Investigators were still working to figure out how many days King was working without his firearm and other equipment.
Chronister said he was “disgusted" by the actions of an employee charged with protecting kids.
“Thank God nothing catastrophic happened while Leroy King was assigned to Mango Elementary,” Chronister said.
King no longer works for the school district. He had been hired in February, spokeswoman Tanya Arja said in an email.
King’s arrest comes a few months after a former Pinellas school guardian was arrested for pawning his Glock pistol and body armor. Erick Russell, 37, was charged with five counts of providing false information to a pawn broker.
He told detectives he did it because he needed gas money, officials said.