On the 10-year anniversary of the Columbine school shooting, a 16-year-old East Gadsden High School student was arrested Monday morning and charged with possession of a firearm on a school campus and possession of a concealed weapon. The .22 caliber handgun was found in the student's backpack but he had not taken it out.
The student’s identity was not released by press time by the Gadsden County Sheriff’s Office.
Forty-five other students were sent home as a precaution.
"I called for backup and went to code red. The school was on lock-down. The priority is student safety," said Rosalyn Smith, principal.
Deputies from the GCSO arrived at the school about 8:35 a.m. to assist administrators. Major Shawn Wood said each student's backpack was searched and they found one razor, a knife and pepper spray in three other backpacks. The search took about 90 minutes.
Smith said the incident started Monday morning after a physical altercation between two students. The student with the weapon was not involved in the fight.
"Someone started text messaging over the weekend that there was going to be a big fight. Students actually told teachers what might happen and we were prepared," Smith said.
The student, according to Wood, said his cousin was involved in a fight last week and it was rumored in his neighborhood that several students planned to fight him Monday.
"He said he was afraid. The gun was very old and he had one bullet in the chamber," Wood said.
By noon the students had all returned to class but parents were arriving at the school to take children home.
"Everything here is safe and the students are safe. If a child doesn't feel safe the parents are certainly welcome to take them home," Smith said.
Wood said the key to the Monday's quick action is the result of good communications between teachers and students.
"I would say that 99 percent of the students were glad to see us. They were very cooperative, no one got hot-tempered. The principal and her people did a good job. They are to be commended for the way they handled things," Wood said.