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Two school threats prompt statement by Lee County school superintendent

LEHIGH ACRES MS INCIDENT.JPG
Special to WGCU Public Media
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Sheriff Carmine Marceno described the Lehigh Acres incident during a media briefing Thursday afternoon, saying the suspect pointed what later was determined to be a BB gun at another student's face and then tussled with that student over possession of the gun. Marceno said a faculty member, who he described as a "hero," stepped in and took control of the gun.

Multiple incidents this week involving threats at Lee County schools prompted a statement by Christopher Bernier, the district's superintendent of schools.

Bernier's remarks, which sought help from students and parents in reporting and preventing threatening behaviors by and against students, came after incidents at Lehigh Acres Middle School and Mariner High School.

The superintendent indirectly cited the incidents in his statement: "During the past few days, there has been an increase in incidents involving threats made by, and against our students. Safety in our community is a responsibility of everyone. If a student sees something, they must say something. As a member of our school and larger community, everyone has a moral responsibility to ensure the safety of all. Our staff and School Resource Officers are prepared to support any student who comes forward and protect the information that they provide."

"Students involved in this type of action will be disciplined at a school level, but may face serious legal consequences as well. Some of these consequences may follow a child into adulthood, impacting their college, career and future."
Christopher Bernier, Lee County school superintendent

At the Lehigh school Wednesday, a 12-year-old female student brandished a weapon in the cafeteria, threatening another student.

The Lee County Sheriff's Office Youth Services Division arrested the student and the Sheriff's Office released a statement: "This incident was isolated, and at this time there is no threat to any other students or faculty. The investigation remains active."

At a media briefing by the Sheriff's Office Thursday afternoon, Sheriff Carmine Marceno described the Lehigh Acres incident, saying the suspect pointed what later was determined to be a BB gun at another student's face and then tussled with that student over possession of the gun.

Marceno said a faculty member, who he described as a "hero," stepped in and took control of the gun.

The girl was arrested and later charged with aggravated assault, battery, possession of a BB gun by a person under age 16 and disruption of a school function.

Cape Coral police said that officers were called to Mariner High School around 8 p.m. Tuesday in reference to a school threat.

A police spokesman said multiple reports from concerned students and parents were received due to a Snapchat photo that referenced Mariner High School getting “shot up” on Wednesday.

Detectives identified the alleged suspect as a 14-year-old North Fort Myers girl who is a student at Mariner.

The student was later was charged with written threat to conduct a mass shooting or an act of terrorism.

WGCU public Media is not identifying the students involved due to their ages.

Bernier's statement stressed that similar threatening behaviors would not be tolerated.

"Students involved in this type of action will be disciplined at a school level, but may face serious legal consequences as well," he said. "Some of these consequences may follow a child into adulthood, impacting their college, career and future."

The superintendent urged parents to talk with their children about the importance of appropriate behavior both online and at school.

"It’s important for our students to clearly understand the consequences of their own behavior, but it is just as important they understand the responsibility they have to ensure safe learning environments," he said. "Remember, if they see something, then they have an obligation to say something, and we have a an obligation to to protect the information they provide."

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