Local high schools cope with threat of guns

Photo courtesy : Brendan Brown

Leon County had 108 shootings in 2022, a 17% increase from 2021.

Florida A&M alumni Juan Houston grew up in Tallahassee and had a friend who was fatally shot.

“Being so close to someone who was a victim of gun violence leaves a bitter taste in your mouth in a sense where you never know who’s next or when the next occurrence may be,” Houston said.

“The community could serve as an impact to decrease gun violence with education, the youth needs more guidance. It starts with parents but some kids don’t have both of their parents in their lives,” he added. “Split parenthood is a big cause of this.”

Aaron Soivilien, a Leon High School alumni, is aware that gun threats have increased at his former high school.

“Honestly it’s really sad, a student shouldn’t be able to have access to a gun, the parent’s should be in jail and held accountable,” Soivilien said. “Kids now are unpredictable, you don’t really know what they’re dealing with on campus and as well as off campus, kids need guidance on how they can take care of their mental health, gun threats and violence are still the same since I was in high school a few years ago.”

Leon High School experienced a student bringing a gun on campus in the first week after returning from winter break.

Sori Sutton the mother of a student who attends Leon High School, shared her thoughts and reaction to the gun threat.

“I was terrified when I heard about it. My first thought was what if nobody knew the child had the gun, I was terrified and relieved that they found the student confiscated the weapon and that the student was expelled,” Sutton said. “I feel the school could add more security and the problem with schools is there is more than one entrance, and metal detectors can help.”

“My daughter is concerned. We also talked about a safety plan if gun violence occurred on school grounds cause you never know, she is also more conscious about her surroundings since the recent incident that occurred on campus,” Sutton added.

The resource site www.aft.org provides helpful information for how to respond to a gun threat at a school, and how to stay safe.

Godby High School had a fight break out on campus which led to a student going to social media threatening to bring a gun on campus the next day. The day after the incident students received excused absences if they didn’t attend class that day.

The Leon County School District is adding three new safety measures with metal detectors, patrol dogs that can sniff out firearms, as well as an alert program each middle and high school will have.