Pasco cracks down on school threats

Two Pasco County students were arrested Tuesday in separate cases of crimes that involved potential threats against schools.

A 12-year-old at John Long Middle School was found with three weapons in his backpack: a BB gun modeled after a pistol, an 11-inch knife, and a smaller throwing knife.

A 10th grade student at River Ridge High School is accused of threatening to shoot up this weekend's homecoming dance.

In both cases, one or more students notified administrators or the school resource officer.

"In today's society with recent activity and events, you don't take any chances. So the kids did the right thing and told the SRO about it," said Lt. Troy Fergueson.

In 2016, Florida lawmakers made it a second-degree felony to make threats against a school or students.

Three students have been arrested this school year in Pasco County, including one right before the start of school. At least eight students were arrested for making threats last year.

Fergueson said the number of incidents is actually decreasing because students are realizing these are serious crimes.

"I think the students look around and see what's going on in modern society and they, too, agree that these kind of things shouldn't be joked about and talked about in school. There's no place for it," he said.

River Ridge students were glad the threat was taken seriously.

"It was freaky to think that me and my friends were all going to be there, and to have a threat like that made was pretty serious. It was scary," said Brittany Porter, a sophomore.

"It's kind of sad that people still do it even though they know the consequences. If you're making a joke about it, you know you're going to get in trouble," added Alexis Rizzo, who's in ninth grade.