Manatee student showed off loaded gun at school

PALMETTO — A 15-year-old Lincoln Middle School student has been charged with bringing a loaded gun to school and showing it to other students so he would be “taken seriously.”

Palmetto police officers say Sean M. Robitaille told them he did not intend to threaten or shoot anyone with the pistol he brought to school Monday. He was charged with possession of a firearm on school property, which is a felony.

“The young man elected to bring a loaded gun to school and he had it there all day,” Palmetto Police Lt. Scott Tyler said today.

The eighth-grader had the gun in his backpack, then placed it his pants and showed it off to “selected people” in school, according to Tyler and Robitaille.

Several students told school administrators about the firearm, said Margi Nanney, spokeswoman for Manatee schools.

Administrators called the boy in and found the gun on him, police said. They then informed police and Robitaille was arrested at about 4 p.m., at the end of the school day.

More charges are pending as investigators sort out how Robitaille obtained the loaded firearm and if he had any prior criminal record, Tyler said. Police said the gun belonged to Robitaille’s neighbor, but the neighbor told them he had no idea how the boy got the gun.

Robitaille offered investigators many reasons for bringing the gun to school but he wasn’t being truthful, even with his parents urging him to tell the truth, Tyler said.

“He brought it to school so people would take him seriously,” said Tyler, who interviewed the boy for several hours. “He claims that he was having trouble with some students, but he wouldn’t tell us who they are or give us specific names.”

Investigators asked other students if Robitaille was being bullied but they said he is the bully, Tyler said.Robitaille could face suspension or expulsion. According to the school district’s student code of conduct, students who bring a firearm to school will be suspended for 10 days and be recommended for expulsion.

Sylvia Lim, education reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7041.