EAGLE LAKE, Fla. - Parents of students at Lake Region High School in Polk County received some concerning messages Thursday. An unspecified type of weapon had been found on the campus and law enforcement officers were conducting an investigation.
The weapon turned out to be a 357 Magnum revolver, which was found after an hours-long search by Polk County sheriff's deputies. Four juveniles now face a list of charges, including felonies.
A representative of Polk County schools provided the three messages that were sent to parents and families.
All students and staff are safe.
The first message, which came sometime after 9 a.m. Thursday, began with a reassurance no one was in danger, before explaining why the reassurance was needed.
"Law enforcement and school administrators have determined there is a weapon on campus, but it has not yet been located. Officers are searching the campus and conducting interviews with students.
Students are being held in their classrooms, and lunches are being delivered to them. Law enforcement officers are escorting students to the restrooms. These measures are being taken to ensure student safety and assist law enforcement officers with their investigation."
The message asked family members not come to the school, saying they would not be allowed on the property. A subsequent message said the student who allegedly brought the gun was identified, but the weapon was not.
A third message said the gun was located and the school day was going to proceed as usual.
The Polk County Sheriff's Office says, after locking down the school, and extensive search, reviewing surveillance videos, and interviews with students, four juveniles were arrested.
It all started when a student told the school resource officer someone had a gun.
The armed suspect was identified as a 16-year-old student who allegedly pointed the weapon at a classmate before passing the gun to another student.
The gun was not loaded when it was recovered by deputies, but they say a bullet was found in another student's backpack.
Two 14-year-olds, a 15-year-old and a 16-year-old -- all males -- were arrested and face charges including felony possession of a firearm on school grounds, felony possession of a concealed firearm, felony aggravated assault with a firearm for pointing the gun at another student, felony tampering with evidence, felony exhibition of a firearm, misdemeanor disruption of a school function, and misdemeanor possession of a firearm by a minor.
The sheriff's office said both 14-year-old and the 16-year-olds had criminal records prior to this incident.