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Saturday, Jun 23, 2018
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Sunlake High student arrested during school lockdown

— A Sunlake High School student was arrested Friday after he told another student he had guns, leading to a lockdown at that school and two other schools, the Pasco County Sheriff’s Office reported.

The student didn’t actually have weapons, but was still charged with disruption of a school function after deputies searched him and the campus, sheriff’s spokesman Kevin Doll said.

“Any student, or anyone, who makes such an allegation even joking, we are going to take it seriously and there are serious repercussions for those individuals,” Doll said.

The student had worn a trench coat to school and when another student asked him why, he asked whether that student had ever seen the movie “The Matrix,” then added that he had guns, Doll said.

That student reported the comment to the school resource officer, who called for additional assistance to find the student in the trench coat, Doll said. Once that was accomplished, the boy’s house was checked, as was his cellphone and Facebook page to see whether anything suspicious could be found.

Nearby Rushe Middle School and Oakstead Elementary also were placed on lockdown during the Sunlake search for weapons, the sheriff’s office and school district reported.

School district officials said that once the lockdown was lifted, parents could pick up their students if they wanted. News of the lockdown was widespread because the district, Sunlake Principal Steve Williams and students all sent out information on Twitter.

That caused concern for many parents, who went to the school while it was still on lockdown to find out what was happening.

“This was insane an hour ago,” said Cheryl Smith, the mother of a 10th-grader as she waited in the car pickup line for the regular 1:55 p.m. dismissal. “They had cops at every entrance. You could not get to the school to get the kids.”

She said more than 100 parents were standing on the sidewalk in front of the school, but off school property. Traffic was lined up both ways on Sunlake Boulevard and parents were getting out of their cars, she said.

Smith appreciated the school’s actions, though.

“I know my kids are safe,” she said. “I’d be more concerned if they didn’t have lockdowns.”

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