• Mandarin High School student arrested after self-reporting he had gun in his vehicle

    By: Cole Heath, Action News Jax

    Updated:

    A Mandarin High School student was arrested Tuesday morning after he told administrators that he had a gun in his car.

    Viewers tell Action News Jax that the school's principal told parents in a recorded phone call that the gun was in the trunk and unloaded.

    Duval County Public Schools released the following statement, saying the student will face discipline according to the Student Code of Conduct:

    "Tuesday morning, a Mandarin High School student self-reported to school administration and the School Resource Officer that he was in possession of a firearm on school grounds.  Upon investigating the claim, the student surrendered a firearm that was located in their vehicle that was parked on school campus. While we are pleased to know our students can come to school administration with any concerns, we must also follow procedures when it comes to bringing any weapons on campus. The student was arrested, and will also face discipline according to the Student Code of Conduct.  It is a new school year, and we are encouraging parents and guardians to please discuss this incident with their children as well as monitor the items he or she may bring to school."

    Jose Soto, 18, is in the Duval County Jail on a felony charge of possession of a firearm on school property after a Tuesday arrest.

    While DCPS will not confirm if this teen is the one accused of bringing a gun to Mandarin High, district officials do confirm a student self-reported they had a gun on their car on campus.

    The DCPS code of conduct calls that a zero-tolerance infraction.

    "The reason you sign the code of conduct is if there is a difficulty is you say, 'you knew, you signed right here,'" said Action News Jax law and safety expert Dale Carson.

    "He brought a gun, you have to follow the rules," said Raven Pritchett, who graduated from Mandarin High in 2008.

    Many people on the Action News Jax Facebook page said the school district is overreacting.

    "It seems like social media has gotten it right here in my view," Carson said.

    Carson said the teen's punishment for reporting himself could discourage others from doing the same for fear of punishment.

    "We want them to willingly report it, but I think having zero tolerance is a mistake," Carson said.

    The school district's police department has not yet released Soto's arrest report, despite our public records request. We're also working to connect with Soto's family, but haven't heard back yet.


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