ST. PETERSBURG - A 17-year-old Boca Ciega High School junior was arrested Wednesday for bringing a gun to school.
According to early reports, a female student tipped off school staff after receiving text messages that led her to believe the male student may be a threat to himself or others.
The student was taken out of class, and a loaded .380 automatic pistol was found in his backpack.
"Number one, we're here to educate students, but prior to that, we need to make sure that they're safe first," said Principal Michael Vigue. "Our students and our staff respect each other, and the most important thing, they try to make sure everyone's safe on our campus."
Vigue called the teen's behavior "erratic", but wouldn't elaborate further.
The student told officers he got the gun from his mother's safe at home. He also said that he planned to use the gun on himself, not against others.
The student is currently in protective custody and is charged with possession of a firearm on school property.
"I think we have to assume that, if a kid takes a gun to school, he could use that gun," said Children's Crisis Center Program Director Doug Craddock. "They could harm either themselves or others."
Craddock believes the female student may have saved the teen's life today, and hopes others learn from her.
Depression for teenagers often looks more like anxiety or anger, and Craddock says the gun may have been the student's cry for help.
"Maybe he didn't intend to use it but brought it maybe hoping to have someone find that gun and do what was done today," Craddock said.
If you or a child you know needs help, call the Crisis Center Hotline at 813-272-2882.
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