2 students charged after gun brought to Oakleaf High, police chief says

Increased security at high school after police say 4 students involved in incident Wednesday

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Four students were involved in a gun-in-school incident Wednesday at Oakleaf High School, and two of them are now facing a felony charge, Clay County District Schools Police Chief Kenneth Wagner said.

Wagner said one student brought the small handgun to the high school, sparking a code red lockdown a little after 12:30 p.m. Wednesday after another student reported to school administrators and the School Resource Officer that they saw the firearm.

“It’s pretty traumatic for students, but at the end of the day, everything was safe,” Wagner said of the lockdown.

Two of the students have been charged with possession of a firearm on school grounds, which is a felony. They were taken to Duval Detention Center Wednesday night.

Wagner said the investigation is ongoing and still evolving regarding the other two students.

“We’re still looking at everything. School sanctions are ultimately another part of this whole process,” he said.

Wagner said it’s unclear why the student brought the gun to school. Police haven’t determined who the gun belongs to. They said it has not been reported stolen

Wagner called the situation dangerous and had a message for parents.

“I stress that if folks have firearms at the house, that they are accountable of their firearms and not leave them in unlocked vehicles where a car burglar can take their firearms,” Wagner said. “When you are lackadaisical with firearms, and they get into other people’s hands, that is when nefarious acts happen. I strongly encourage people to watch their firearms.”

One parent News4JAX spoke with, who wished to remain anonymous, said they hope to see some protocols change to prevent this from happening again.

“It is a nice school, but they still should have it where they might need to get checked to get inside the school,” the parent said. “How did he get it in the school? Maybe they need to wear clear backpacks like elementary.”

There was added security at Oakleaf High on Thursday and Wagner said he’s working on making changes following this incident.

“I am looking at a brand new type of equipment that would help detect these kinds of things,” he said. “We are expanding on some of the technologies and hardware and things that we have now.”

We know several schools in Palm Beach County will get metal detectors as part of a pilot program, and we spoke with a former school resource officer who said there are pros and cons to metal detectors -- but that isn’t the root of the problem.

“They would bring them for a ‘protection,’ not necessarily protection against people in school, it could be something in the neighborhood, it could be something, you know, on the commute to school or from school, or perhaps in school, who knows,” said the officer, who declined to be identified. “And then another reason why is because, you know, they just had access to it, and they wanted to show it off.”

Students are seeing a lot these days. Wednesday’s incident at Oakleaf came on the heels of a school shooting in Nashville that left three children and three staff members dead.

The former SRO said because of these tragedies, school districts put effort into keeping intruders out of school -- and rightfully so.

She said the same effort should go into establishing relationships with students to hopefully prevent them from bringing weapons into school.

“Even if it was a kid that might be thinking of bringing a gun to school, if they were in a situation where they needed help, that they would feel, you know, free to come to an adult on that campus and talk about it,” she said.

Parents and students in Clay County are encouraged to make sure they have the SaferWatch app on their phones. They can use it to report any threats or get alerts on what’s happening at their school.

About the Authors:

A Florida-born, Emmy Award winning journalist and proud NC A&T SU grad