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Latest weapon in school arrests involved teenage girls

Police: 15-, 16-year-old girls posted video playing with Taser in bathroom

Taser gun made to look like smartphone.
Taser gun made to look like smartphone. (Wikimedia Commons photo by AnelGTR)

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Two teenage girls were arrested Thursday after the school resource officer at First Coast High School was shown video the girls posted on social media of them sparking a Taser gun inside a school bathroom, according to the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office report.

According to police, the Taser appeared to look like an iPhone and the video was posted to SnapChat. 

News4Jax is not using the names of the two girls because of their ages and the fact that it was a non-lethal weapon.

That was the third weapon-in-school arrest at First Coast High in less than a week.

"Over the last week, our school has experienced multiple incidents involving firearms and weapons," First Coast Principal Timothy Simmons said in an automated call to parents. "This is completely unacceptable and forces a disruption in the safe learning environment at First Coast High School. As a result, district and school officials and law enforcement will be talking with students, and most likely, increasing random searches."

Officials said an arrest has been made this school year in each of these cases:

  • Aug. 16 -- Mandarin High School
  • Sept. 26 -- Terry Parker High School
  • Dec. 1 --Baldwin Middle/High School
  • Jan. 19 -- First Coast High School
  • Jan. 25 -- First Coast High School
  • Jan. 25 -- Fletcher Middle School
  • There were 10 gun-in-school incidents last school year, resulting in seven arrests.

    The highest number in News4Jax's records was 14 gun-in-school incidents during the 2014-15 school year.

    Parents and school officials agree the numbers mean there is a problem.

    Officials said tips from students led to arrests Wednesday at Fletcher Middle and First Coast High.

    First Coast High School parents said the incidents are reason to worry.

    “It does concern me, but as a parent, I think we have to come together more and flesh out the issue as to why it's happening,” parent Regina Poole said. “So it's not a school thing. It's a parenting thing.”

    Superintendent Dr. Nikolai Vitti told News4Jax in an earlier interview that parents need to be aware of what’s going on in schools when it comes to guns.

    “We've enhanced our random searches. We do random searches on school buses before they get on the school bus and after they get off the buses,” Vitti said. “We randomly select searches in classrooms in our secondary schools. If we get a tip, we go to that particular classroom and search bags and lockers connected to those students.”

    But News4Jax crime and safety analyst Gil Smith said some students know what’s happening and try to outsmart school officials.

    “Sometimes, kids would just hide the gun somewhere off-campus in a bush or bury it someplace,” Smith said. “Those are kids who are carrying weapons, because they feel they need the protection going to and from school.”

    Vitti said one thing that needs to change is the attitude some students have toward guns.

    “Certain children are growing up in homes where that fear of guns is not there,” Vitti said. “And the lack of respect for guns or not understanding the dangerous nature of guns is negated because of what students are seeing on video games and culture in general.”

    Officials said the takeaway from the numbers is that guns are in schools, and parents need to be aware and talk to their children or even check their bags and other items they take to school.