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17-year-old arrested after police say he brought a loaded, stolen gun on a Polk County school bus

"If you bring a firearm to school, there are no second chances," Haines City Police Chief Jim Elensky said.
Credit: The Associated Press

HAINES CITY, Fla. — A student has been arrested after investigators say he was spotted with a stolen handgun on a school bus in Polk County.

The 17-year-old, who attends Ridge Community High School in Haines City, has been charged with two counts of possession of a firearm on school property, improper exhibition of a firearm, carrying a concealed weapon and unlawful possession of a firearm by a person under 18.

The Haines City Police Department says officers were notified around 2:30 p.m. Monday that the student had a gun on a bus that was transporting kids home. A fellow student told law enforcement the teen was cycling rounds in and out of the gun's chamber. That other student texted a parent, who notified school staff.

A school resource officer communicated the situation to the Polk County Sheriff's Office, which dispatched deputies to intercept the bus and arrest the 17-year-old. Authorities say the gun was loaded with five rounds in the magazine. The weapon had been stolen from a home in Polk County, according to investigators.

"If you bring a firearm to school, there are no second chances," Haines City Police Chief Jim Elensky wrote in a statement. "We are fortunate that no one was injured by the careless disregard this 17-year-old had for the students and staff he placed in harm's way."

Elensky commended the fellow student and parent who reported the matter.

According to law enforcement, the 17-year-old with the gun was on probation. He was arrested and taken to the Juvenile Assessment Center.

"We appreciate our law enforcement partners, including the Haines City Police
Department, for responding so quickly and confiscating this weapon," said
Angela Clark, principal of Ridge Community High School, in a statement. "We are thankful that a tip was made to keep anyone from getting hurt. As always, we encourage students, staff and community members to report any suspicious activity to law enforcement and school administrators. Working together, we can keep our schools and buses safe."

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