Tips led to the arrest of students at two different schools in Collier County on Monday for bringing knives on to campus.
According to the Collier County Sheriff’s Office, Benjamin Mendoza,18, was arrested and charged with possession of a weapon on school grounds and disruption of a school function after he brought a knife to Palmetto Ridge High School. Detectives searched the student’s backpack after receiving tips that Mendoza had brought a gas mask to school last week and made disturbing statements about the mass shooting in Las Vegas. The bag contained several items including disturbing drawings, a map of the school, a note that said, “shoot up school,” and “school shoot animae[sic] dead.”
CCSO said that they interviewed witnesses who saw Mendoza with the gas mask who also claimed that the student had a knife in his bag. He was then placed under arrest.
A 13-year-old was also arrested Monday for bringing a knife to Corkscrew Middle School on Monday.
Deputies and school administrators searched the student’s locker after receiving a tip that the student had posted a picture on social media of himself holding a semi-automatic firearm. Those reporting the post said that there were no threats accompanying the photo.
Both investigations are still active and ongoing.
These arrests come at a trying time, with both Collier and Lee County Sheriffs promising increased law enforcement presence on campuses after a shooter left 17 dead at a Broward County high school last week.
On Tuesday, the Collier County School District announced they were launching an initiative called “KEEP COLLIER SAFE.” The initiative creates a link on the district’s website which allows those concerned about a potential act of violence to report it directly to law enforcement, along with tips for parents to talk to their children about violence.
“If you see something suspicious in person or online, whether it be written or verbal, please make sure you say something,” Collier Superintendent Kamela Patton says in the bulletin. “Most importantly, if you see something that concerns you or looks like a possible threat of school violence, please report it. No concern is too small.”
The CCSO encourages residents to call 239-252-9300 to report suspicious activity, or to remain anonymous and be eligible for a reward contact Crime Stoppers at 1-800-780-8477.
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