Police: 16-year-old had 2 guns on Catholic school campus

Alert teacher, off-duty Jacksonville Beach officer avert potential tragedy

JACKSONVILLE BEACH, Fla. – An alert teacher and a police officer helped catch a 16-year-old carrying two guns and a ski mask on the campus of Jacksonville Beach school.

A teacher at St. Paul’s Catholic School noticed a teenager acting suspiciously just before 11 a.m. Friday and notified administrators and an off-duty officer the school hired to protect the campus of 700 students and dozens of faculty.

"The officer was there literally within seconds," Jacksonville Beach Police Chief Mark Evans said. "And the officer started talking to the kid and realized that he really should not be there."

The officer wrote in the arrest report that Conner, who is not a student at the school, was walking down First Avenue looking around at the children, into the windows of buildings and fidgeting.  When questioned, the officer said Conner gave conflicting answers, so the officer asked him to turn around and began to pat him down. The report said the officer immediately found a gun in his right jacket pocket. Conner was handcuffed and placed under arrest.

According to the report, Conner had two guns on him, a 9 mm Glock and a .45-caliber Sig-Sauer. The officer said the Glock had a magazine with eight rounds in it, but the magazine was not in the gun. The .45-caliber was loaded, with four bullets in the magazine.

Conner, who was wearing a black jacket and had a ski mask with him, did not tell detectives why he was here, what he was planning to do or why he had the guns on him.

"We did have everything in place and it worked the way that it should have," Jacksonville Beach Police Chief Mark Evans said of his officers.

St. Paul’s Principal Krissy Thompson met with parents Monday morning to talk about the incident and the security measures put in place since last year's school shooting in Parkland.

"(It went) exactly according to (the) plan that we put into place and then we practice religiously," Thompson said. "(To) reassure them that we are doing everything possible, every step possible to keep these kids safe."

Evans said that while Conner is still a teenager, he already has a long criminal history, with several felony arrests.

"I can tell you with him being a juvenile and having the history that he has, there’s a reason why he was there and there is a reason why he had two loaded guns with him," Evans said. "But we don’t know what that reason is at this point."

Conner was booked at the Duval County jail and transferred to a juvenile detention facility. 

About the Author: