1. News

Boy, 9, carried loaded gun on school bus, Hillsborough deputies say

A Hillsborough County school bus driver saw a 9-year-old student slip this loaded .22-caliber handgun into his pocket Wednesday. She reported what she saw to bus dispatch, which then contacted authorities.
Published Nov. 7, 2013

RIVERVIEW — When the bus driver noticed the gun, she convinced herself it wasn't real.

"It has to be a toy," 51-year-old Debra Dryden remembered thinking. "It has to be a toy."

In the seat closest to her on the bus' passenger side, a 9-year-old student was slipping a small, loaded .22-caliber handgun into his pants pocket.

The bus was full, packed with 35 to 40 students on their way to Ippolito Elementary School on S Falkenberg Road. Dryden said she looked back over her shoulder when she heard another student who was sitting next to the third-grader say, "I'll never mess with you again."

The boy was arrested Wednesday after Hillsborough County sheriff's deputies met Dryden's bus outside of the school. Students were unloaded while Dryden kept the 9-year-old behind in his seat. Deputies escorted him off the bus, and Dryden said he denied having the gun until deputies found it in his pocket.

The gun, a derringer, doesn't have a safety, Hillsborough County sheriff's spokesman Larry McKinnon said.

A Hillsborough County Schools spokeswoman said Dryden followed procedure by reporting what she saw to bus dispatch, who in turn contacted authorities.

Despite the danger made obvious later — a loaded gun and a full school bus heading toward a building teeming with children — Dryden said she wasn't scared.

"He never said or did anything to make me feel threatened," Dryden said.

McKinnon said it's not yet clear where the boy got the gun. He initially told deputies it came from home, but then told them he'd found it in the park and hidden it at home before bringing it to school to show off, McKinnon said. Any further charges against the boy's parents would depend on finding out how the pistol made its way into his pocket.

Records show his mother, Canika Moore, was charged with a misdemeanor in July for failure to ensure school attendance, but those charges were dropped.

The boy was booked into the Hillsborough County Juvenile Assessment Center but is expected to be released to his family.

Times researcher John Martin contributed to this report. Claire Wiseman can be reached at (727) 893-8804 or On Twitter: @clairelwiseman.


  1. Atlantic tropical cyclones and disturbances, as of 11 a.m. Thursday. National Hurricane Center
    It is projected to pass north of Puerto Rico on Saturday and east of the southeastern Bahamas on Sunday.
  2. Police investigators say they believe the man has a history of mental of illness. Photo from video/10News WTSP
    Firefighters initially tried to climb after him, but the man just climbed higher.
  3. The Tampa City Council was told Thursday that it had little power to prevent a medical marijuana cultivation,  processing and dispensary approved for East Tampa. ANDREW SELSKY  |  AP
    Trulieve plans to open a facility near a recovery center. State preemption prevents the city from taking action.
  4. Statements made online that threaten physical harm, whether seriously intended or not, can have devastating consequences. The “It’s No Joke” awareness campaign seeks to educate youth and parents that even threats made online. Florida Department of Juvenile Justice/Facebook
    The arrests came after other students told deputies they’d been told they were on a “safe” list.
  5. In this Wednesday morning Sept. 18, 2019 photo, Detention Cpl. Shaguanta Scott, left and Detention Deputy Darryl Keaton, right, escort Michael W. Jones Jr. back to the Marion County Sheriff's Office in Ocala, Fla. Jones, suspected of killing his wife and four children and driving their bodies into Georgia, was returned to Florida to face murder charges. (Doug Engle/Star-Banner via AP)
    Investigators found the decomposed bodies of the children in woods nearby.
  6. A team of a dozen victims' rights attorneys on Wednesday filed the third lawsuit in three months against the Church of Scientology and its leader David Miscavige. The complaint states a woman was repeatedly sexually abused as a child in Scientology's care and that church policy enabled the abuse. PIERRE-PHILIPPE MARCOU  |  AFP/Getty Images
    The third lawsuit filed against Scientology and leader David Miscavige in three months accuses the church of sexual battery, racketeering and conspiracy
  7. President Donald Trump boards Air Force One at Marine Corps Air Station Miramar, Wednesday, Sept. 18, 2019, in San Diego, Calif. EVAN VUCCI  |  AP
    The lawsuit opens a new legal front in Trump’s long-running fight to prevent his tax returns from becoming public.
  8. Surveillance video shows suspects in an attempted robbery-turned murder at a Bradenton smoke shop. Manatee County Sheriff's Office
    One suspect is in custody and two others are wanted in connection with the Wednesday armed robbery turned murder.
  9. Jessica LaBouve, a penetration tester for cybersecurity company A-LIGN, poses for a portrait in the A-LIGN office on Thursday, Sept. 12, 2019 in Tampa. Companies hire A-LIGN to figure out where their digital security weak spots are, and LaBouve is one of the "benevolent hackers" that finds them. ALLIE GOULDING  |  Times
    Jessica LaBouve of A-Lign works with companies to make their applications and platforms more secure.
  10. Stephen A. Schwarzman, CEO of the Blackstone Group, speaks at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, earlier this year. MARKUS SCHREIBER  |  AP
    The billionaire also talks trade with China in an interview with the Tampa Bay Times.