JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – There were two alarming incidents Monday at two different Jacksonville schools.
Duval County School police arrested a student at Terry Parker High School who brought a firearm to the campus, and school police identified a Mandarin Middle School student responsible for a social media threat, the school district said.
According to Duval County Public Schools, Terry Parker High was placed on lockdown after students reported that there was possibly a firearm on campus. School police said they then found a loaded gun in a trash can in a school bathroom. Police said they were able to identify and arrest the student who brought the weapon on campus.
In the wake of the incident, the school will be implementing walk-through metal detectors and searches of belongings for all students as they arrive on campus for the remainder of the week.
“Screening will be in place at Terry Parker while we review our current status and evaluate how we can enhance prevention efforts with the staffing available to us," Superintendent Dr. Diana Greene said in a statement released early Monday evening.
Before the school district announced the arrest about 6 p.m. Monday, parents were showing up Monday afternoon at Terry Parker High frustrated and looking for more information regarding the lockdown.
Just after noon, the News4Jax newsroom started receiving calls and emails from parents who were wondering what was happening on campus. Aerial video recorded soon after by the Sky 4 helicopter captured parents standing outside the main entrance to the school, and many of them said they were trying to figure out what was going on after they were alerted to a lockdown on campus. The school district acknowledged that there was a code yellow.
The Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office told News4Jax that there was a report of a student who was seen with a gun before school. It’s unclear exactly where, but police said that, once the student arrived at the building, they searched him and did not find a weapon. It’s unclear whether the student was the same one who was arrested.
As school started letting out about 2 p.m., parents told News4Jax that their children were giving them more information than the school district, which they found frustrating. Kimberly Boyd, the aunt of a Terry Parker High student, told News4Jax that she tried calling to get answers, but couldn’t get any.
“My nephew sent me a text message, just letting me know that he was frightened and that there were several policemen on campus and that they were being kept in a classroom,” Boyd said. “Of course, my first instinct was, you know, to panic and find out exactly what was going on, try to come up there.”
Though some parents said they felt they weren’t kept up-to-date on what was happening on campus, Vanessa Veal said that she felt the district handled the situation well.
“They just sent a recording and everything was fine and everybody was fine and everything was contained," Veal said. “I was able to contact my kids and they were fine and they were OK, so everything was good.”
The school district later shared the message that Terry Parker High School Principal Megan McKinney sent to parents.
“First, I want to express my gratitude to those students who made us aware of a possible weapon on campus today. I am disappointed to confirm that we did, in fact, have a student bring a firearm to campus,” the message said, in part. “We are also aware of a social media post suggesting another threat. It has been investigated and is not credible. Nonetheless, we want to take every precaution to ensure a safe campus, which is why we will employ campuswide screening for the remainder of the week as we work with the district to develop other prevention efforts.”
Different Duval County school placed on code yellow Monday
Mandarin Middle School was also placed on code yellow on Monday.
According to the school district, students were screened when they arrived at Mandarin Middle as a result of a social media post threatening violence at that school.
School police said they learned that a student at the school made the post, which is a Level III infraction of making a schoolwide threat. That infraction comes with an immediate suspension and possible placement into one of the district’s disciplinary alternative schools.
Due to the age of the student, school police will also review the incident with the State Attorney’s Office to determine whether any additional action should be taken.
Mandarin Middle School Principal Moses Williams sent a message to parents, letting them know that the code yellow had been lifted.
“I have mixed feelings as I report that our school police department has identified the student responsible for the recent social media threat. While I am thankful that our police have succeeded in this matter and that there is no threat to our school, I am disappointed when any student faces such significant disciplinary consequences,” the message said, in part. “I do hope that you will use this situation to have a very important conversation with your child. Any kind of threat to a Duval County Public School will be taken seriously. A threat is never a joke and will have significant consequences."
Neither the name of the Mandarin Middle student nor the name of the student at Terry Parker High was released.