90ºF

Police: 14-year-olds traded guns at school

Source: 18-year-old Wolfson student also found with guns in car near school

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – In the latest of seven incidents involving Duval County school students with guns in as many weeks, two 14-year-old boys were arrested Thursday after police said they each brought a loaded handgun to J.E.B. Stuart Middle School on the Westside.

Jacksonville police said Warren Jones (pictured below left) had a .38 caliber revolver, and Rodney Gibson (pictured below right) had a .22 caliber pistol. According to the arrest report a student tipped off school officials after the .38 fell out of Jones' shorts.

Both teenagers are charged with possession of a firearm by a convicted felon and possession of a firearm on school property.

Gibson told school police they'd traded the handguns, according to a police report.

School officials said no students were threatened or harmed. 

Both suspects have prior convictions for burglary, and Jones is on probation.

DOCUMENT: Letter to Duval County parents from superintendent

Also Thursday, police said they found guns in a Wolfson High School student's car near campus. 

Jacksonville Sheriff's Office booking photos of Warren Jones and Rodney Gibson
Jacksonville Sheriff's Office booking photos of Warren Jones and Rodney Gibson

A source told News4Jax that a student tipped off authorities that another student had guns in a car.

The source said officers tracked down the student, later identified as 18-year-old Timothy Hayes, who had a key to a Lexus in his pocket. Officers found the car parked at an apartment complex next to the school and found two loaded handguns and 10 to 15 grams of marijuana packaged for sale in the car.

Authorities also said the car was stolen.

Hayes (pictured below) was charged with car theft and resisting police. News4Jax is told Hayes is part of Wolfson's Bridges to Success program that helps older, troubled students finish school.

This was the third time a Wolfson student was caught with a gun since school started in mid-August, according to sources. In the last week, guns were also found on campus at Chaffee Trail Elementary and Fletcher High School.

Timothy Hayes makes his first appearance in court.
Timothy Hayes makes his first appearance in court.

On Friday, Superintendent Nikolai Vitti sent a letter home to all parents of Duval County Public Schools students addressing the recent incidents of guns in schools. He said it doesn't seem like the intent any any of the incidents was to harm other students.

"It's really more about this culture of showing off, looking influential, powerful because they have a weapon, and that's unfortunate," Vitti said.

Bringing a weapon to school can lead to arrest and expulsion.

All of the incidents were reported to administration by other students and parents reached out to News4Jax, talking about what happened. But News4Jax was never made aware of the other three incidents.

Vitti didn't have a reason why, but he did go over exactly what the protocol is during situations like these, and alerting the media is not on the list.

"If we have word that a student has a weapon on them, we would not necessarily go into a code red," Vitti said. "We would send an officer or a dean into the classroom and conduct a random search. Usually we do our searches with our officers, so that room would be contained."

Vitti said the school contacts parents through an automated system and sends a letter home, too, but doesn't alert the media.

"Is there some sort of underlying reason why not?" News4Jax's Heather Leigh asked Vitti.

"No, not necessarily," Vitti said. "We just follow our normal protocol, and that's to communicate directly with the parents through our automated system or letter. Sometimes we'll hold a community meeting if we think that something is happening excessively and we need that face-to-face time. But as a practice, we normally don't alert the media on those types of issues because we use our normal communication practices."

Vitti said there were nine incidents in 2013 in which guns were confiscated in schools.

According to the county's Youth at Risk Survey, which students fill out anonymously, the number of students bringing weapons to school has decreased. Vitti believes the reason the number looks like it's going up is that more students are telling adults what's going on.

"We have continued to tell students, 'Please tell an adult when you think, know, assume or have any reason to believe a child brought a weapon to school,'" Vitti said.