One arrested, one sought after shooting at Johnson Middle; Sheriff to increase security

eearl@bradenton.comApril 13, 2013 

MANATEE -- Authorities have made one arrest and are looking for a second suspect involved in a shooting that occurred Friday afternoon on the grounds of Johnson Middle School.

A 15-year-old male has been charged with trespassing on school grounds, the Manatee County Sheriff's Office said late Friday. Detectives have also developed a person of interest regarding the second person believed to be involved in the incident.

The suspect in custody is not believed to be the shooter.

The incident occurred just after 3 p.m. Friday. No one was injured, but the school at 2121 26th Ave. E., was put on lockdown. According to officer Dwayne Denison, the school was on lockdown for about 30 minutes.

Witnesses say two suspects, possibly teenagers, were on school property toward the back of the middle school when one of them fired a gun in the air. The two fled the scene.

Denison said there was no threat to anyone else in the shooting.

"It was a sick event, and there is no telling the motive other than sheer entertainment," Denison said.

Nearby Wakeland Elementary School was also put on lockdown for almost an hour Friday, said Manatee County school spokeswoman Margi Nanney.

All of the parents were notified that two suspects had fired a weapon on school grounds and that schools were on lockdown. They were also notified of the delayed bus schedule.

One suspect was wearing all black and the other was wearing all white. The suspects were seen on one bicycle just before the shooting. After the shooting, one suspect fled on the bicycle while the second suspect fled on foot, the release stated.

Sheriff Brad Steube said that the last shooting on a campus was six years ago on 38th Street at Southeast High, and that there will be enhanced security on all school campuses Monday.

"We are working on getting the suspects identified, and we will have a ton of people on campuses next week," Steube said. "We have had an enhanced presence since Sandy Hook."

On Dec. 14, 20-year-old Adam Lanza shot 20 children and six adults to death in a mass murder at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn.

On Friday, Johnson Middle School students Diana Mendoza and Guadalupe Martinez heard the gunshot.

"We were scared and put our heads down," Mendoza said.

Sixth-grader Brooke Washington said that while she did not hear the gunshot, she feels safe about returning to school Monday.

"I felt safe knowing all the doors were locked," Washington said.Anyone with information on the incident is asked to call the sheriff's office at 941-747-3011 or Crime Stoppers at 866-634-TIPS.

Erica Earl, Herald education reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7081.

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