BRADENTON — Bradenton Police investigators expect to file additional charges against a Manatee High School teacher who was arrested after he stole school property to feed a prescription drug habit, according to reports.
Christopher J. Potter, a television production instructor, was arrested Thursday after he made threats to another staff member about bringing a gun to a faculty function, according to police.
It’s unclear when he made the threat and school officials stated he had been acting “erratically,” but have declined to elaborate further.
Potter was arrested on five counts of dealing in stolen property, five counts of grand theft, two counts of drug possession and one count of resisting arrest. He posted a $12,750 bond early Friday, according to the Manatee County jail website.
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As school officials check the school’s inventory and investigators examine pawn slips, more theft charges are expected to follow next week, said Bradenton Police Deputy Chief William Tokajer.
Potter had recently been notified by staff that his contract would not be renewed, according to arrest reports.
When Potter left and returned to campus Thursday, police approached him in the parking lot and arrested him at around 1 p.m. He had Oxycontin pills in his hand, according to police.
On the way to the jail, Potter phoned his mother and told her he was caught with drugs, according to arrest reports. He told police his drug habit led him to take as many as 10 Oxycontin pills a day, according to arrest reports, and when he learned he was terminated, he began increasing the dose.
Potter, 25, has been employed by the district for four years, according to school district officials. He also plays guitar and sings in a local metal band, The Stand.
Prior to this incident, he had no criminal record, according to police.
A student in Potter’s television production class said Potter was always on the computer during class.
“We never did anything,” she said, declining to give her name. “Most everyone has A’s.”
Tokajer said Potter was purchasing his drugs from a street-level dealer. He pawned items — so many items Potter could not remember them all — from the school to fund his habit, according to reports.
Potter, who was over the audio and visual department, had unlimited access to the school’s electronic equipment, according to reports.
Among the items pawned were Apple laptop computers, a digital camera and wireless transmitters. Tokajer said detectives have found slips dating back to September.
Potter also pawned some of his mother’s jewelry, according to police.
Police conducted a search warrant at Potter’s Sarasota residence and recovered electronic items belonging to the school and weapons including a .40 caliber handgun he had referenced to in the threat.
Jackie Walker, 39, of Bradenton, picked up her 16-year-old daughter from school Friday and said she was concerned about Potter’s behavior.
“Of course, I’m concerned. He’s taking away from the kids. He’s taking their computers, she said.
“They are screening the athletes for drugs. They should start screening the teachers.”
According to Manatee School District Personnel Policy, teachers are screened for drugs when they are hired.
Potter was placed on paid administrative leave Thursday pending the outcome of the investigation.