Police: Woman with gun arrested after fight at Ribault High School

Sharon Kelly, 43, charged with possession of firearm on school property

By Elizabeth Campbell - Reporter, Erik Avanier - Reporter

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - A fight between two people in the gym of Ribault High School on Wednesday morning grew into a brawl as trespassers came onto campus to join the fight, according to a Duval County schools spokeswoman.

School administrators and police intervened and stopped the fight, and while searching those involved, a gun was found on one of the trespassers and an arrest was made, the spokeswoman said.

Sharon Kelly, 43, was arrested on a charge of possession of a firearm on school property.

There were no reports of injuries. One of at least three students who were in handcuffs after the fight, a sophomore, spoke to News4Jax after he was released and told to stay out of trouble.

"They were already talking about jumping me, so I had my people too," said the teen, who only used the name Tank. "We could have fought in the parking lot, but they came in, so we fought inside."

Senior Caleb Kanu, who shot video of the fight, said he heard that two students from another school  and one of their mothers got involved. He said it was that woman who had the gun.

"It’s really shocking how it happened, that they even got on campus," Caleb said. "How the mother got on campus and how they entered the gym, you know?"

According to the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office report, the school resource officer spotted Kelly, who had a loaded gun in her hand, walking from the front of the gym.

When the resource officer told Kelly to put the gun down and get on the ground, police said,  Kelly began yelling 'It's my gun. It's registered to me," and tried to put the gun back in the case. 

Shortly after that, she complied, was taken into custody and was booked at 11:45 a.m. into the Duval County jail.

Detectives said Kelly was involved in the fight and was captured on the video. The arrest report said the gun possessed a fully loaded magazine with six rounds, but there was no bullet in the chamber.

Ribault High School sent out this robocall to parents and guardians of Ribault students:

This is Assistant Principal Ronnie Williams calling to let you know that all students and staff are safe, and an incident occurred this morning in which both school and security teams were able to intervene to ensure the safety of our campus. Just after school began, two students engaged in a planned fight outside the building. As staff worked to separate the students, a group of trespassers joined the altercation. Duval County School Police and administrators were able to intervene and immediately detain all participants. While the individuals were in custody and being searched, school police confiscated a firearm from one of the trespassers.  Law enforcement is continuing to investigate and criminal charges as well as school discipline are pending. We greatly appreciate the swift action of Duval County School Police and staff as they were able to immediately intervene, stop the fight, detain the individuals and confiscate the firearm on the trespasser. Please note that all students and staff are safe. A letter about this incident will go home with your child this afternoon. 

Mother Marandy Simmons said she was dropping her sophomore daughter off and knew something wasn’t right.

"Could not get in the school due to the police," Simmons said. "We tried to ask what was going on. They said, 'Nothing serious,' but then we overheard a parent say there was a gun brought into the school, so I didn’t send my daughter. I brought her home."

Simmons said she is not going to send her daughter back to school. 

"I’m going to go get her schoolwork (and) let her finish out this year at home," Simmons said. "Then next year, (I will) probably put her in home school. I just don’t trust the school system anymore."

There were at least four school police cars at the school for most of the day, while there's usually only one officer on campus.

Caleb graduates soon and will be headed to college, but he’s concerned about the students he’s leaving behind.

"School is a place where we want to go and learn. You want to have fun. You want to have memories -- want to make memories. Not a place where you have to be forced to go and that you’re going to be scared to go," Caleb said.

This was the ninth gun incident at a Duval County public school in the 2017-2018 school year. There have been seven arrests.

Ribault High School has one school resource officer. The school district issued the following statement:

Violence on our campuses is unacceptable. We are incredibly thankful that students and staff remained safe and Duval County School Police and staff were able to intervene, stop the fight, detain the individuals and confiscate a firearm from one of the trespassers. As a result of this incident, one individual was arrested. Please know that we take all threats to the security of our campuses seriously, and there will be an increased security presence at the school on Thursday. Additionally, the school is working with district operations and security teams to conduct a safety review of the campus and determine if any further action needs to be taken."

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