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PREVIOUS COVERAGE | Manatee High teacher posts bond on drug, theft charges

BRADENTON — A Manatee High School teacher who was arrested Thursday after he threatened to bring guns to a school function told police he had been stealing school property and pawning it to feed a drug addiction, according to the Bradenton Police Department.

Police arrested 25-year-old Christopher Potter, a television production instructor and yearbook adviser, at about 1 p.m. on campus after administrators contacted authorities.

He was released from the Manatee County jail Friday morning after posting bonds totaling $12,750 on a variety of drug and theft charges.

Potter had been acting “erratically,” according to district officials, and was notified Thursday he would be placed on paid administrative leave and his contract would not be renewed, said Margi Nanney, spokeswoman for the Manatee County School District.

When Potter was notified, he told another staff member at the school he was going to bring guns to an upcoming faculty event, according to police. The staff member notified administrators, according to Deputy Chief William Tokajer.

Police said they also learned Potter had been stealing school electronics and pawning it to purchase Roxicodone pills.

Potter told police he sometimes takes as many as 10 pills per day, spending about $80 a day to support his habit, according to police reports. Potter was in charge of the audio and visual department and had unlimited access to the school’s electronic equipment.

He told detectives he began taking the equipment in January, but could not remember all the items he had pawned. Police were able to charge him Thursday night for items including three Apple laptops, Canon Rebel digital camera and a wireless transmitter, according to arrest reports. He pawned all of those items for a total of $550 at various pawn shops, according to reports.

Potter left the school campus Thursday and police were waiting on him in the parking lot when he tried to re-enter the building.

Potter would not immediately show his hands to police. In one fist he clenched Roxicodone pills, Tokajer said.

Police obtained a search warrant for Potter’s Sarasota residence Thursday night.

Inside they found .40 caliber pistol he had referenced to staff, other weapons and a considerable amount of electronics that appear to belong to Manatee High, Tokajer said. No drugs were found inside his home.

Manatee High Principal Bob Gagnon was at Bradenton Police Department picking up Potter’s ID card Thursday afternoon.

“There’s no reason for (parental) concern,” he said. “That’s why we’re there — to take care of the kids.”

Gagnon declined to comment further.

“At this time we have no reason to believe he was dealing to students,” Tokajer said. “There’s no indication that there was any harm to students by him or any criminal activity involving the students at this time.”

Nanney said Potter was employed for four years. He also taught a music class.

Nanney would not elaborate further on the erratic behavior and said Potter will remain on paid administrative leave until the investigation is completed.

The investigation continues with more charges expected, Tokajer said. As of Thursday night, Potter faced five counts of grand theft, five counts of dealing in stolen property, two counts of drug possession and one count of resisting arrest.