Not even two full weeks of the 2018 school year have passed, and Marion County is dealing with another gun incident at a school.
It led to a Code Yellow lockdown.
The incident began Wednesday at West Port High School, 3733 SW 80th Ave. in Ocala. Teachers and then the school resource officer, Robert Gravel, were alerted that a student had brought a gun in a backpack, and that some teachers were holding the student. The 10th-grade student — whose name was made public but which is being withheld because of his age — was arrested and charged with possession of a firearm on school grounds and possession of a firearm by a person under 21.
Ocala police identified the gun as a Hi-Point .380 caliber handgun. It was not loaded, but was in the teen’s backpack with a loaded magazine. OPD said the gun had been reported stolen out of Suwannee County.
After the arrest, classes were allowed to resume, and dismissal occurred at its normal time.
Later in the evening, a recorded announcement went out to parents from Marion County School Superintendent Heidi Maier. In the announcement, she told parents an unloaded gun had been confiscated, but didn’t mention the loaded magazine. She also defended the delay in making a public announcement of the on-campus incident.
“Under guidance from Ocala Police Department, we delayed in notifying the public of the Code Yellow. Ocala Police Department needed time to investigate and secure the campus and ensure student safety,” she said.
In her recording she went on to send a warning to students that anyone bringing a weapon to campus would be arrested and would be disciplined by the district. She also had this plea for parents: “Please talk with your children and remind them about the consequences of poor choices, including bringing weapons to campus.”
School is planned as normal at West Port High Thursday. The West Port incident was the second gun incident this week at a Marion County school. At Lake Weir High School earlier this week, a student brought a weapon to campus but kept it in his car. Maier said it is wrong for a student to ever bring a weapon to campus.
Last school year at Forest High School in Ocala, a former student brought a gun to campus. In that case, the gun was actually fired and a student wounded. The alleged shooter, Sky Bouche, remains jailed on various felony charges.