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Student found with gun at Jackson High School

Expert: After 13 gun-at-school incidents, 'something really needs to be done'

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Students at Andrew Jackson High School are headed back to class this morning, one day after the school was placed on lockdown after a student was found with a weapon. School officials said a student reported that a classmate had a weapon, and the armed student was eventually arrested off campus.

Andrew Jackson High School in Brentwood was placed on lockdown Tuesday afternoon after a student was found with a loaded .22-caliber handgun.

School officials said a student reported that a classmate had a weapon, and the armed student was eventually arrested off campus. No information about the student's gender or grade level was released.

So far this school year there have been 10 gun-at-school incidents and 13 arrests. Last school year there were 12 incidents and 11 arrests, and in the 2012-13 school year there were 10 incidents and seven arrests.

News4Jax crime and safety analyst Gil Smith said Jacksonville has outpaced school districts in Miami and Atlanta with its gun-at-school incidents this year.

Smith said Superintendent Nikolai Vitti needs to make some changes quickly before a future incident turns tragic.

"I think more weapons are coming into school. Even though we've had 13, there have probably been more than that that have been brought into school," Smith said. "This should have been a wake-up call a while back. Something really needs to be done about this."

CHART: Gun-at-school incidents since October 2012

Smith said the big question is why students bring weapons to school and how to prevent it from happening again.

"I know in some neighborhoods, students bring weapons to school because they feel they need it as protection going to and from school, and don't do anything with it in school," Smith said. "I think a month ago, the Superintendent Mr. Vitti said that he was going to get with the school board and try to find a solution to this problem -- how to deal with it. So far, we haven't heard from him."

Smith said one viable solution for the district could be implementing random searches of backpacks and lockers.

He said that would definitely make students think twice before bringing a weapon onto campus.

Jackson High students said Tuesday's incident lasted about an hour and a half and caused them to get out of class about 20 minutes late.

A voicemail went out to all parents informing them of what happened. In that message, Principal Evan Daniels said the student involved will be disciplined according to the school's Code of Student Conduct, which can include a recommendation for expulsion.

Some students said they were told to get away from doors and windows but weren't told why they were on lockdown.

"Everyone was wondering why we needed to be quiet, and no one knew what was going on," student Roderick Sadberry said. "We like to be aware of what's going on, but they wouldn't tell us. So then we didn't know what to do, so we got out of school late because of the whole lockdown, and that was the end.

"Not frustrated, but scared more than anything because we don't know what's going on."

Sadberrry said school safety isn't what it used to be a lot of students fear for their lives. But he said he hopes the poor choices of one student don't reflect poorly on the rest of the Jackson High student body.

"Just bringing a gun to school is just ignorant," Sadberry said. "They should get the proper punishment for the crime that they did."