Cotee River Elementary School students, parents on edge from frequent gunfire

Guns fired 8 times this year

PASCO COUNTY, Fla. - Parents and students are concerned after hearing what they say are gunshots near a bay area school.  The shots are being fired in a wooded area, behind Cotee River Elementary School in Pasco County. 

School officials say someone shot guns in the woods surrounding the facility at least eight times this year. The last time was more than a month ago.


Lou Cerrete, Cotee River's principal, said when they hear the shots during school, the school goes into a "controlled campus setting."  Students are brought inside, away from the woods.  


"Any time you hear gunshots, whether it's close by or off in the distance, of course, student safety is of the utmost importance for us.  So it is concerning and that's why we quickly bring the children inside to have a safe, secure campus."


To enhance that safety, a Pasco County deputy lives on school grounds and responds to the facility when needed.  Sheriff's deputies have also searched the woods and issued trespassing citations to five people. But, they say they have not found anyone firing guns there. 


Kirsten Hopper, a fifth-grader, says the shots caught her attention many times.  Hopper said, "It makes me kind of nervous, because I don't know what they're aiming for.  And it's kind of dangerous because if they miss, they could actually hit the school."


Geena Rossel has two kids at Cotee River Elementary. She gives them advice about the situation. Rossel said, "Just to stay with us adults.  Stay close when you hear something.  Always let an adult know when you hear a strange sound that frightens you.  To communicate."


Principal Cerreta wants to get the word out and urges whoever is pulling the trigger to stop.


If you have any information about this case, you can call the Pasco County Sheriff's Office.

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