A teenager is in custody in Florida after bringing a handgun onto a school bus last month, according to authorities.
Hernando County Sheriff Al Nienhuis announced during a news conference Thursday that a 16-year-old boy was arrested in connection with reports of a gun on a school bus and at Springstead High School on Jan. 12.
Nienhuis said the campus’ school resource deputy was informed by students on Jan. 16 of the gun on campus four days prior.
Deputies began looking into surveillance footage from the bus and the school, and discovered the teenager did appear to have a handgun on the bus and was showing it to other riders.
Neinhuis also shared that the sheriff’s office had actually encountered the boy at around 11:30 p.m. on Jan. 12 while investigating a stolen vehicle at Mariner’s Cay Apartments. When he was approached by deputies, the teen allegedly pushed one of them out of the way and then fled on foot before ultimately fleeing in the car and crashing it on Mariner Boulevard.
While working to determine if the gun seen in the surveillance footage from the bus was real and functional, deputies learned of a 17-year-old wounded in an unintentional shooting on Jan. 31. Though the shooter in that incident was not the teenager who brought the gun to school, Nienhuis said the gun had the same markings as the one seen in surveillance footage.
The sheriff’s office also said the gun had been in the possession of several people between the day it was on the school bus and the day it was used in the shooting.
“We are obviously concerned it may have been stolen,” Nienhuis said of the gun in question, adding that the department is still trying to determine where it came from.
During the news conference, the sheriff applauded the students who came forward and reported the weapon on school grounds, but stressed the importance of coming forward immediately instead of waiting a few days.
Nienhuis said the shooting of the 17-year-old, who he described as a “good student” who was never getting into trouble, might have been prevented had authorities been informed of the gun earlier.
“Now he is the victim of a gunshot wound because of a gun that was being passed around,” the sheriff said. “The bottom line is students need to step up and let us know when something like this happens.”
Hernando School District Superintendent John Stratton also addressed the incident at the news conference, adding that weapons on campus “will not be tolerated.”
“If you’re bringing a weapon onto any of our campuses or properties you will be expelled, and you will face possible arrest in that process,” Stratton said.
The 16-year-old was arrested on Wednesday and charged with possessing or discharging weapons or firearms in school-sponsored events or on school property. He was transferred to the Department of Juvenile Justice in Ocala, where he remains in custody.