History teacher's replica rifle prompts scare, lockdown

- A Manatee County teacher's antique rifle sparked a lockdown at a Bradenton middle school Thursday when a parent saw him carrying it into school and called 911.

The Civil War-era replica belongs to a history teacher at Braden River Middle School. The rifle is not capable of firing.

Nevertheless, a parent dropping off his child saw a man with a rifle walking on school property and notified Manatee County deputies.

"He's got an older-model shotgun or rifle. He's got a bag that looked like ammunition," the caller told the 911 operator.

"And where are the weapons now?" the dispatcher asked.

"He was walking right into the school with it," the caller replied.

That call set off a brief lockdown, which was lifted before school started. The school district, however, is taking it seriously.

"If somebody sees something, they're going to pick up the phone and call and they should," said Michael Barber, a spokesperson for Manatee County Schools. "We have to handle these things in such a way that the school administration, the school staff, and the school resource officers are involved and it's done in such a way that would not cause any alarm to anyone."

FOX 13 showed a photograph of the rifle to another parent.

"It very much looks like a real rifle, especially if you saw an adult walking around on campus with it. It would be pretty scary," said Wendy Buckner, who only dropped her daughter off after learning that the campus was safe. "I was very nervous especially for all the kids that I know that go here and that I knew were probably already at school and my daughter, fortunately, wasn't there yet. But you think about something like that and especially with everything that's happened -- terrorist bombings and shootings in schools -- it's terrifying some days."

Barber said the teacher has brought the rifle to show students for several years. District administrators are going to review the incident and decide whether a policy should be in place preventing faculty from bringing anything that resembles a weapon to school. 

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