OKEECHOBEE -- Earlier this morning (Friday, Jan. 27), the Okeechobee County Sheriff's Office responded to the Osceola Middle School while going into complete lockdown after reports that a student had a firearm on campus.
Within one minute, the school was in lockdown, and numerous law enforcement from Okeechobee County Sheriff's and Okeechobee City Police were on the scene to assist the on-site School Resource Deputy.
The subject was apprehended within the first 4 minutes after being identified, and the room he was in with other students was secured, searched, and cleared.
The students that reported the incident were questioned again on the initial contact with the student of interest.
Witnesses collectively stated the following;
The "student of interest," a 14-year-old, told a student that he would bring a gun to school today.
Today, several students asked the suspect if he had brought the gun as the 14-year-old male wore an oversized "hoodie" sweater with a single large, double-hand pocket across the front. Students reported seeing what appeared to be the 14-year-old gripping something with the outline of a handgun.
When students asked the 14-year-old if he had a gun, the student gripped the object tightly, much like a handgun, and said, "Yes!"
These students immediately told staff about the incident, and the response from our agency and the Okeechobee City Police was swift and immediate.
During questioning, the 14-year-old suspect admitted to threatening a student yesterday about bringing a gun to school today.
The male suspect admitted that he told people today that he had a gun and intentionally made those around him believe the bottle he was gripping was a gun.
The object in the suspect's pocket was located and was, in fact, a small Lipton Ice Tea Bottle (plastic).
Subsequently, the student is being charged with; Aggravated Assault, a felony, and Disruption of School Proceedings, a second-degree misdemeanor.
The suspect is being held for booking at the Okeechobee County Jail Facility.
Sheriff Noel E. Stephen stresses that the students did the right thing following the "See something, Say something." initiative.
The response from the Osceola Middle School Staff, our School Resource Deputy, and all the other Okeechobee County Sheriff's Office and City Police personnel that responded show a level of professionalism and level of training for these types of events that stands to speak for itself.