Friend defends student accused of bringing gun to Mandarin High

Deion Perez accused of bringing gun to school

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - A friend of the Mandarin High School student who was arrested Thursday after bringing a gun to school defended the 17-year-old Friday.

Deion Perez's friend didn't want to be identified but told Channel 4 that Perez was being threatened by a group of boys.

"He was very calm. Deion didn't fight at all. It's not like he was going to go shoot up the school or something," a teenager from Mandarin High School told Channel 4 Friday night.

Perez is facing felony charges and the possibility of being expelled from school because he brought a loaded weapon to school.

"Over the last week there have been people who have been threatening to jump him, so he did what he needed to do to protect him self," said Perez's friend. "Now knowing Deion, I don't think he would have used it. I think he would have pulled it out to get out of what he needed to."

Friday night, Perez's friend told Channel 4 the charges against Perez should be dropped.

"I can understand expulsion. You brought a weapon to school but felony charges? I kinda understand it but I don't," said Perez's friend. "He was very calm when he was asked to hand over the weapon. There were no arguments and no fights."

According the incident report, around 11:45 a.m. school police were told by staff a student witnessed Perez gripping the gun and showing it off.

When police arrived to Perez's classroom, the report said they pulled him out of class, where they located a loaded 9-mm pistol in his waistband.

When police asked why he had the gun, the report said Perez said he had "beef" with some guys on the Westside and needed protection. It goes on to say he paid $150 for it two years ago.

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Duval County Schools said two school resource officers responded within six minutes of the weapon being reported. The principal of the school then sent out a voicemail blast to parents alerting them of what happened Thursday.

The district said this is the seventh incident of a student bringing a gun to school.

When Channel 4 asked Duval County Schools for an interview about the situation, they released the following statement:

"We recognize that this outcome is a direct result of the responsiveness and cooperation of our students, administrators and security teams. We will continue to enact emergency operations procedures and encourage students and parents to continue such efforts that promote and build safety."

A clinical psychologist told Channel 4 Friday night that number is a tragedy and speaks to a larger issue -- keeping guns away from children and more accountability on parents to communicate with them.

"A lot of times adolescents are going through a phase of trying to develop good judgment and they are often in situations that are stressful and they don't know how to react and if they don't have a confidant or an adult to talk to they are prone to make judgments that we normally wouldn't make," said Dr. Ellen William, psychologist. "Parents really need to help kids create a culture of safety in the house and impart that attitude to them."

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