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Gun-shaped phone case that triggered Florida school lockdown is ‘a fashion trend,’ student says

A student in DeLand, Florida, has been charged with misdemeanor disruption of an educational institute after police say the teen brought a phone case that looked like a pink gun to school, forcing a lock down until police verified it wasn’t real.
A student in DeLand, Florida, has been charged with misdemeanor disruption of an educational institute after police say the teen brought a phone case that looked like a pink gun to school, forcing a lock down until police verified it wasn’t real. DeLand Police Department

A high school in DeLand, Fla., went into lockdown Tuesday morning after a student reported seeing a classmate with a handgun in his pocket, police said.

But once police found the 15-year-old student suspect around 9:30 a.m., it became clear the item wasn’t a handgun at all. When police searched the teen, they found a novelty phone case that had been molded to look like a pink gun, DeLand police said.

The teen suspect was charged with misdemeanor disruption of an educational institute, police said. The lockdown lasted 30 minutes, WFTV reports.

The suspect told police that he’d purchased the case on the internet for himself and his girlfriend, the Orlando Sentinel reports.

“[The student] stated he knew bringing the case to school was a mistake and he was just doing it as a fashion trend with his girlfriend,” an arrest affidavit obtained by the Sentinel said.

The incident in DeLand — located in central Florida, north of Orlando — comes a week after a mass shooting in southern Florida left 17 dead. The Parkland school shooting was the deadliest school shooting since the 2012 shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newton, Conn., left 26 victims dead.

DeLand police said they’re glad the student reported the sighting, even though it turned out to be a false alarm.

“We know that kids will be kids, but in today’s world we must be vigilant,” DeLand Police Chief Jason Umberger said in a statement. “I want to express to all of our young people out there that they should always feel comfortable coming forward with information. Even if you’re not sure, we want to know.”

Umberger also criticized the existence of the phone case.

“It makes no sense that cell phone accessories are being made to look like handguns and it makes no sense that gun manufacturers are making fatal weapons into novelties like pink handguns,” Umberger said.

The student involved in the incident was released to his parents following his arrest, the Sentinel reports.

Local school officials told parents that they should be watching their children closely.

“You have to have a discussion with your children regarding ‘see something, say something’ to a trusted adult. You have to monitor your children’s cellphone and social media, and third, you need to check their backpack,” Volusia County Superintendent Tom Russell told WFTV.

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