Lockdown at Mandarin High lifted after campus searched for gun

By Kelly Wiley - I-TEAM reporter, Steve Patrick - News4Jax digital managing editor

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - Police searched Mandarin High School on Friday after reports that a student was seen with a gun on campus, keeping students in a code red lockdown for a couple of hours.

Duval County Public Schools said it detained a student but did not find a gun.

After parents started flooding the school, police and News4Jax with calls, Duval County Public School confirmed that the school was placed on lockdown while the campus was being searched for a firearm.

The district sent this statement from Principal John Knisely: "The school was placed on code red due to allegations that a student was in possession of a firearm. That student has been detained by police and had no firearm on his person. Police are searching the school to determine if a firearm is on campus, and therefore the school remains on code red. Because the school is on code red, please do not come to the school at this time. We will update you as the situation progresses."

Despite that message, dozens of parents showed up, the line wrapping from the driveway past the high school's sign on Sunbeam Road. Most of them were nervously texting their children who were on lockdown inside.

"I got a text from her," Jeremy Chesser of his daughter, a junior. "She said they were on code red. They pushed her into the guidance office, and she was told to be quiet."

A viewer sent a brief video appearing to show a young man being led away by police. At 2:22 p.m., the school announced the Code Red had been lifted. 

"We appreciate your patience as we worked through this situation. Your child's safety is our highest priority and we will always take necessary precautions in these situations," media relations supervisor Laureen Ricks said.

According to Duval Schools records, there have been at least two other threats at Mandarin High this school year and at least seven during the 2018-2019 school years.

The school district said it was aware of a rumor of another threat at the school earlier this week, but had nothing to confirm.

"This is something that has kind of been regular with the police being involved, and it just makes her stressed out, so (I'm) concerned about her," said Tonya Chasten about her daughter, Cheyla, a sophomore.

"There was a lot of rumors. We didn’t know what happened," 10th grader Cheyla Chasten said.

Copyright 2019 by WJXT News4Jax - All rights reserved.