Heightened security at Westside Middle after loaded gun found on campus

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Westside Middle School will have increased security going forward after a loaded gun was found in a student’s backpack on Tuesday.

The principal called it a very poor decision on the part of the student, who is now facing criminal charges for bringing a loaded gun to school.

The district said a school employee found the gun Tuesday morning while searching unapproved backpacks. Only clear and mesh bookbags are allowed on campus.

Duval School Police arrested the student after finding the gun, and Westside Middle will now have additional screenings as an extra safety precaution for students and staff.

Christal Adamic said she never imagined something like that would happen at her child’s school.

“It’s very scary. My son was nervous to go to school this morning,” Adamic said. “I think (the district) did good this time. They jumped on it, took care of it quickly.”

Other parents had similar responses, but they also want the district to get to the root of the issue.

“Honestly a lot of these schools in Duval need to worry about bullying. They don’t take care of it like they should and that makes kids do things like this,” Adamic said.

Duval County Public Schools is asking parents to be vigilant and has several steps it wants parents to take before sending their kids to school.

The district said parents should check their child’s backpack and personal belongings before they leave for school.

Parents are also encouraged to talk to students about the serious consequences that can result from situations like this.

All district high schools have weapon detectors installed, but Maddie Rutherford Middle is the only middle school in the district with the detectors. The $7 million upgrade was put in place this school year.

This year, Duval School Police also added a new K-9 that is trained to sniff out firearms. Maverick is the only firearms detection K-9 in Northeast Florida.

K-9 Maverick was not at Westside Middle on Tuesday when the gun was found.

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This native of the Big Apple joined the News4Jax team in July 2021.