15-year-old arrested after bringing gun to Winter Park school, police say

No injuries reported, district says

A 15-year-old student at Winter Park High School was arrested Wednesday morning after police said he brought a handgun on the ninth-grade campus.

WINTER PARK, Fla. – A 15-year-old student at Winter Park High School was arrested Wednesday morning after police said he brought a handgun on the ninth-grade campus.

The main campus, located at 2100 Summerfield Road, was locked down briefly as police investigated the Fortify Florida tip, school Principal Matthew Arnold said in a message to parents.

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The student, who News 6 is not naming, was arrested at the Winter Park Ninth Grade Center, 528 Huntington Ave., after officers located the boy and his backpack, which contained a handgun and a magazine with three bullets.

Arnold said all students and staff were safe and no injuries were reported.

“We strongly encourage you to speak with your son or daughter about making good choices and to regularly check your student’s backpack for items that are not allowed in school. Please reiterate to your students, ‘If you see something, say something,’” Arnold said in the message.

The lockdown has since been lifted and normal school operations have resumed, police said in a tweet.

“We would like to thank the student who did the right thing and quickly reported their observations to Fortify Florida,” the department said in a statement. “We continue to strongly encourage our students ‘if you see something, say something’ to school officials or via the Fortify Florida app immediately upon witnessing any activity or observation of concern.”

The teen is facing charges for possession of a firearm on school property and disruption of a school function, officers said.

According to a spokesperson with Orange County Public Schools, the student taken into custody will also face disciplinary action in accordance with the code of student conduct.

The lockdown comes after a series of “prank threats” caused scares in the district this past week. Orange County Public Schools superintendent Dr. Maria Vasquez recently addressed the recent spike in school threats in a message to families in the district.

“Some students may think of this as a prank, but this is not a joke and it’s taken very seriously. It doesn’t matter if they say it, text it, write it, snap it or post it on social media, students who make threats can face serious consequences according to our Code of Student Conduct and through law enforcement. Nobody wants a police visit to their house over a foolish prank. It’s a waste of precious resources and undue stress on students and staff,” Vasquez said in the message.

Vazquez’s message came nearly a week after West Orange High School received its second threat in two days, prompting a hold at the school until the written message was investigated and an all-clear was given.

Other districts, including those in Volusia and Seminole counties, have also experienced school threat pranks recently.

On Monday, Daytona Beach police said a recent shooting scare at Mainland High School was believed to be the work of “pranksters” who collaborated to elicit panic in the school’s cafeteria.

Additionally, a 14-year-old boy was arrested in Seminole County over a threat posted to social media against Lyman High School. Officials said Monday the teen is not a Lyman student, and the threat he made was not credible.

Another student at Winter Springs High School was also arrested after throwing a chair, causing a shooting scare and a code red lockdown on campus on Sept. 8, police said.

This is a developing story. Check back with News 6 for updates.

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About the Author:

Samantha started at WKMG-TV in September 2020. Before joining the News 6 team, Samantha was a political reporter for The Villages Daily Sun and has had freelance work featured in the Evansville Courier-Press and The Community Paper. When not writing, she enjoys travelling and performing improv comedy.