ORLANDO, Fla. – A day after 17 people were killed in a mass shooting at a South Florida high school, a student at Lake Nona High School brought a replica gun to school in his backpack, according to the Orlando Police Department.
Authorities said OPD school resource officers on campus received a tip at 7:10 a.m. Thursday that a student had what appeared to be a gun in his backpack.
When the student was located, officers found a black CO2 BB gun, 24 CO2 cylinders, ammunition and a pocket knife, according to a news release.
The sophomore student was arrested on a charge of possession of a weapon on school campus. His name has not been released to the media.
Lake Nona High School Assistant Principal Adele Salazar said in a message to the campus community that another student saw the boy on the bus with what appeared to be a gun and alerted staff.
"We understand students may have different reactions to the tragedy in South Florida. Please know that counselors are available for any student who may need to talk to someone," Salazar said.
Police officials said Thursday's incident highlights the importance of the see something, say something campaign.
"Someone saw something, and spoke up, and school administration and OPD officers were able to act swiftly to ensure the safety of students on campus," police officials said in a news release.
Students can report suspicious behavior or concerns about school safety by calling the SpeakOut Hotline at 800-423-TIPS, through the P3Tips App or at www.speakouthotline.org.
Officials from the Orange County Sheriff's Office, Orange County Schools and the Orlando Police Department hosted a news conference at 5:30 p.m. Thursday where they reiterated that safety is a top priority on every campus, but it also requires cooperation from students and parents.
Orange County Public Schools Superintendent Barbara Jenkins said the district had an extensive review of its security procedures in 2014 and has continued to evolve its processes since then. At that time, metal detectors were not recommended but instead, experts suggested random security and weapon searches.
Officials said that Orange County schools are as safe as they can be and regular drills and reviews are conducted. However, Orange County Sheriff Jerry Demings said, no community is immune to the threat of a mass casualty situation.
"Our agencies work proactively with the Orange County schools... to ensure they are as safe as they can possibly be," Demings said, adding that there is a law enforcement presence at every Orange County School.
He urged parents to check their child's backpack before they leave to go to school and he cautioned students against pranks or jokes involving threats because they will be taken seriously.
"We are prepared as we possibly can be to respond to an active shooter situation in this community," Demings said.