SEMINOLE COUNTY, Fla. – Seminole High School parents received a scare Wednesday upon hearing reports about a shooting at the school that left one student wounded and another in custody.
Rick Evans, whose daughter is a senior at the Sanford school, said he hopped out of the shower as soon as he heard the news.
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“She texted us right away saying that they were barricaded in a building, but she says she was OK and that the shooter probably couldn’t get in the door,” Evans told News 6. “I’m relieved because my daughter just texted me saying she was trying to get to her car, but they won’t let her go right now. I am relieved, but when I first heard, I was shook. I was like, ‘I got to get up here as soon as possible.’”
Kenny Burns also received a text from his daughter about a lockdown at the school in which she and other students were holed away in a closet for two hours.
“You think about everything you see on the news about these kids getting shot in school. We’re on lockdown and you hear from your daughter she’s on lockdown in a closet, that’s an issue,” Burns said. “So, that’s anxiety on my part. Luckily, I’m only about (eight) minutes away, I jumped in my truck and was one of the first people here.”
Evans said the students are “shaken up” after a 16-year-old student shot a classmate just before noon. The student who was shot, 18-year-old Jhavon McIntyre, has non-life-threatening injuries and underwent wrist surgery, his family confirmed to News 6.
“What I want to reiterate to everyone is that we want the parents to understand is that this is an isolated incident. There’s no one else outstanding. We want to make sure they understand that we want to make sure the children are safe. We are still investigating,” said Ronny Neal, public information officer for the Sanford Police Department.
At a later news briefing, Sanford police Chief Cecil Smith said their investigation revealed a 9mm gun ditched in the bushes behind the tennis courts.
“With the assistance of witnesses, staff and in-school surveillance, we were able to determine the suspect was the only shooter and that the other kids seen running were running away from the incident for their own safety,” Smith said.
He added that there is no information to suggest this was a gang-related shooting at this time.
“Preliminary information determines that it centers around a dispute over a young lady in school,” Smith said.
Parents are calling on school officials to bolster their efforts when it comes to incidents like this.
“I want to see what the school is going to do about this situation because the classroom she was in didn’t have a window or even a window on the door to let students in the class,” Evans said. “I think they need to step up security to make sure these students are safe here at the school.”
Burns, whose daughter sent him a video of a student being pulled away in a stretcher, said information from the school district could be clearer and come sooner.
“They need to update parents a little better,” Burns said. “I’m looking at the news to get updates... We’re hearing from kids before the school. We need better information.”
County officials said the student charged in the shooting will have a court appearance at 8:30 a.m. on Thursday.
Seminole County Public Schools Superintendent Serita D. Beamon said amid all the chaos, there are counselors on campus as the school prepares to operate normally Thursday.
“We are looking forward to getting to the bottom of how this could happen. You’re right, Chief, the worst day for any school system is when a student is harmed on our campus and we will do whatever in our power to find out all the details and make sure all that are responsible are properly addressed and that our campus remains safe,” Beamon said at a news briefing alongside the Sanford police chief.
The family said McIntyre is recovering after doctors performed surgery on his wrist.
Da’raveius Smith was arrested after officers said he shot his classmate inside a school building just before noon.
Smith is facing one count of attempted homicide, one count of possession of a firearm on campus, one count of firing a weapon and one count of disturbing the peace while interfering with school administration functions.
You can listen to the latest voicemail sent by the school district to parents in the media player below:
Seminole High School’s dismissal was also delayed because of the shooting.