Investigation: Guns in Lee County schools
Photo: Video by fox4now.com
CREATED Dec. 19, 2012
LEE COUNTY - Fox 4 uncovering alarming evidence of students in Lee County bringing guns and other weapons to school. Four in your Corner investigator Mike Mason is here now more on this one.
After searching through records at the Sheriff's office we found dozens of disturbing cases...students bringing guns to class....threatening to kill teachers and fellow classmates.
On Monday, Superintendent Joseph Burke held a news conference to discuss ramping up security at Lee County schools.
Superintendent Joseph Burke: "Our parents can rest assured that safety comes first."
But how safe are these schools? We asked Doctor Burke how many times students have brought guns to school this year.
Superintendent Joseph Burke: "I don't have a count right now, we can certainly get that."
Mike Mason: "It has happened though?"
Superintendent Joseph Burke: "Yes, it has happened."
In fact, it's happened a lot. District officials later told us by email there have been only 2 incidents. But I reviewed files at the Lee County Sheriff's Office and found dozens of cases involving students caught with weapons on campus. In fact, six students were arrested for bringing guns to school..
Superintendent Joseph Burke: "Well, I think the students that have concerns are going to find a way to make their concerns known to the staffs at the schools."
Records we uncovered show at Dunbar High School, 2 students were arrested this year for packing .38 caliber handguns....one said he was being bullied. That same month, another student made a gun threat.
A few months later....two students made death threats.
At East Lee County High, a teen was arrested for pulling a knife on a fellow student. The next month, a student threatened to shoot a bully. In September, 2 students were arrested for bringing guns to school.
At Sunshine Elementary in Lehigh Acres, a student was arrested for having a loaded .45 caliber handgun...he threatened to shoot his classmates for bullying him.
Superintendent Joseph Burke: "I think at elementary schools that's going to be pretty easy to identify the kids that really need to talk to someone."
Reports show students at dozens of schools threatening to kill their teachers and classmates. In most cases, students say they were retaliating for being bullied. In light of the Newtown massacre the Superintendent says communication is now more important than ever.
Superintendent Joseph Burke: "We're going to have to have some conversations in classrooms about the incidents that occurred and sort of tease out what the kids are really thinking."
The Lee County School District currently has school resource officers at high schools and "some" of its middle schools but they admit more are needed. Officials plan to discuss ways to improve school security after the first of the year.