Police cars outside of Liberty Middle School
New Tampa, FL -- Parents who were already feeling tense about taking their kids back to classes Monday got a phone call they didn't want to hear at three Hillsborough County schools.
A bullet found aboard a school bus sent police scrambling and forced administrators to lock down three campuses.
Some students on the way to Liberty Middle School found the bullet and handed it over to the school bus driver who then brought it to the main office at Liberty Middle.
That set off a chain of events that didn't do a lot to soothe some already fragile nerves, since finding a bullet on a school bus would be troubling any day. But on this -- the first day back to classes after the horror in Newtown, Connecticut -- it was that much more alarming.
"It's obviously a very scary situation right now, and the mentality of people that do those sorts of things is that they're not in their right mind," said Kristin Jenkins as she picked up her daughter from school.
Parents at three Hillsborough Schools had to be informed.
All three schools had been serviced by the same bus. They were Turner Elementary, Liberty Middle and Wharton High School.
All three schools were placed on a modified lockdown while police and sheriff's deputies questioned each of the nearly 100 students who'd ridden the bus.
They checked their backpacks, their lockers, and informed already-worried parents immediately.
"We don't want to alarm people, but we want them to know that we are being pro-active," said Linda Cobbe, a spokesperson for the school district.
Nephele Tzouanopoulos, a second grader at Turner, says the kids were told about the school bus incident too. Teachers were re-assuring, she says, but many students were still frightened after what happened Friday in Connecticut.
"That was really bad," she said, "and I didn't want it to happen again, because children can be killed."
Late in the afternoon an unidentified 18-year-old from Wharton High confessed to finding the bullet at his apartment complex on the way to school, and says it accidentally fell out of his pocket.
That explanation provided some relief, but not much, for parents still worried.
"It is very troubling. It is," said Constantine Tzouanopoulos, Nephele's father, "But I don't know. How can we avoid those kinds of things? Is there a way?"
School officials praised the students who turned the bullet in.
The principal at Wharton High School was said to be leaning toward not handing out any serious discipline in this case. Despite the disruption, officials say they student did come forward and did not appear to have any ill intent.
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