FORT MYERS, Fla. - A teen who wrestled a revolver away from a gun wielding teen, and possibly saved a life, was suspended because he was "uncooperative" with school officials and law enforcement during their investigation, according to a new referral sent to the family.
A Cypress Lake High School teen who had a gun pointed at him last week says he would be dead if not for the quick action of another student, who was suspended despite disarming the gunman and being called a hero.
The victim, who Fox 4 is not identifying, said it was "crazy" the school would suspend the teen who wrestled a.22 caliber RG-14 revolver out of the hands of a 15-year-old gun wielding suspect on a school bus last Tuesday.
"Do you think he would have killed you?," asked Fox 4 reporter Matt Grant.
"Yeah," the victim said.
Nearly a week after the incident, the victim says says he's still shaken. He recalls the suspect telling him he was "going to shoot and kill me."
According to the police report, "several other students" helped disarm the suspect who was "pointing the gun directly" at the victim and "threatening to shoot him."
"He was going to shoot him," said the teen who wrestled the gun out of the suspect's hands. "Point blank."
On Friday, Fox 4 interviewed the 16-year-old high school student who many are now calling a hero. He says is just a "regular going" who did what he "had to do." Fox 4 has agreed not to identify the teen because he fears for his safety.
"He raised the gun again, that's when I jumped him and we started fighting for the gun," the teen recalled. "And I got it from him."
"If you didn't tackle him," asked Grant, "what do you think would have happened?"
"More of us would have been dead," he said. "Not just one."
Three day suspension
The next day the principal suspended him for three days. According to the referral, it was because he was part of an "incident" where a "weapon was present."
"That's crazy," said the victim.
News of the teen's suspension stunned the victim who says there's no doubt his life was saved.
"If he didn't do what he did what do you think would have happened?," asked Grant.
"I would have probably been the next murder and counting in the city," the victim said.
A district source says the teen was suspended with two other students - the gunman and an accomplice. Others who helped tackle the suspect, a source says, were not suspended because they cooperated with the investigation.
Last week we tried to get answers from Cypress Lake High School Principal Tracy Perks. She drove off and later told us in an email: "I have nothing to say to YOU."
But she is responding to many viewers who flooded her with angry emails over the weekend saying, in part: "There are other circumstances involved in this situation and...NO students were suspended/punished for helping disarm another student of a firearm."
So why was the teen suspended?
The principal sent the teen's family a new referral on Saturday. This time a line was added to say he was suspended because he was "uncooperative" and "lied repeatedly" to school officials and law enforcement.
The teen says he was interrogated for four hours. He admits withholding information from authorities, telling them he "wasn't sure" if there was a gun on the school bus.
He says he feared for his life and didn't want to be seen as a "snitch."
"You don't talk around here," he said.
"Because then what?," asked Grant. "You get a bad reputation?"
"That," the teen said, "or you get killed."
The teen said district officials wouldn't be around to protect him afterward.
"My son did a very courageous thing on that bus," his mother said. "Without him and some other students there would have been some fatalities."
Fox 4 caught up with school board member Don Armstrong who is conflicted about this case.
"Do you stand by the decision to suspend this student?," asked Grant.
"I stand behind if a student lies," said Armstrong, "there's got to be consequences."
That consequence was a three day suspension that Armstrong admits might have been excessive.
"I know that he saved a student's life and he's a hero, period," said Armstrong. "That suspension needs to be expunged off his record."
The teen returned to school Monday.
The 15-year-old gunman was charged with possession of a firearm on school property and assault with a deadly weapon without intent to kill.
School district statement
"The District has completed its investigation regarding an incident that took place on February 26, 2013, regarding multiple Cypress Lake High School students. The District is unable to comment regarding the specific disciplinary measures taken against specific students. However, it must be noted that during the initial investigation conducted by the administration of Cypress Lake High School the students involved refused to cooperate with school authorities regarding the events that occurred. As a result, appropriate disciplinary actions were taken at that time. Subsequently, law enforcement along with school officials have acquired additional information that has provided the complete picture of what occurred that day. Certain students involved have been and will be disciplined in accordance with that additional information consistent with the Code of Student Conduct and Florida law. The District will be making no further comment regarding this matter."
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