Lakeland teacher on leave after telling students he'd 'be the best school shooter'

Parents of students at Lakeland High School were alerted a teacher was placed under a risk protection order (RPO) Wednesday for allegedly describing what he would do if he was a school shooter.

"Following Friday's lockdown drill, a teacher described hypothetical acts of violence against the school and these comments were upsetting students," the voice message to parents said.

The teacher, Keith Cook, taught math at Crystal Lake Middle School before starting at the high school in 2014.

Lakeland police came to the school. Cook was not arrested, but a risk protection order was requested and granted.

Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd explained exactly what an RPO entails.

"If we conduct an investigation and we find the person is dangerous to themselves or someone else, i.e. with a firearm, we can petition the court -- we can't unilaterally do this -- and say, 'Hey, we need a timeout.' The court can give us a temporary risk protection order," Sheriff Judd said.

The order said Cook claimed he would "be the best school shooter" with a "1,000 person body count" during a lockdown drill.

According to students, Cook said he'd plant IED's, fire off a few rounds, and then set off the explosives. 

The report notes Cook did not have any weapons on him or at home, which a risk protection order could have allowed officers to temporarily confiscate. The report also mentions Cook has prior military experience. He told police he was only joking about what he said.

A former student of Cook's said he was shocked by the news.

"That honestly blows my mind. My heart is racing right now. I would've never expected Mr. Cook to say something like that," said Kaleb Better.

Cook is on administrative leave pending the outcome of an internal investigation. The district says student safety is and always will be number one in the Polk County School District.