A 17-year-old Lakeland High School student was arrested early Wednesday morning after school administrators found a loaded handgun in her purse during a random search at the bus loop.

Lakeland Police spokesperson Robin Tillett wrote in a press release that it happened just before 7 a.m. as school was about to begin.

“Officers responded accordingly, in partnership with school staff, and safely took possession of the firearm,” Tillett wrote.

The student was arrested and charged with possession of a firearm on school property and illegally carrying a concealed weapon, both felonies. She was transported to the Juvenile Assessment Center in Bartow.

“At this point in the investigation, officers have not found that any threats were made or that other students were aware of the handgun,” Tillett said.

Polk County Public Schools sent a message to parents and guardians:

Dear families,

This message is being sent on behalf of Lakeland High School. All students and staff are safe. This morning we conducted a random search at school, and found a student in possession of a firearm. No one was threatened with the weapon; the student has been taken into custody and is facing serious legal consequences. As always, we thank our law enforcement partners for helping us conduct these searches and keeping our campus safe.

Thank you.

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Kimberly C. Moore, who grew up in Lakeland, has been a print, broadcast and multimedia journalist for more than 30 years. Before coming to LkldNow in the spring of 2022, she was a reporter for four years with The Ledger, first covering Lakeland City Hall and then Polk County schools. She is the author of “Star Crossed: The Story of Astronaut Lisa Nowak," published by University Press of Florida. Reach her at kimberly@lkldnow.com or 863-272-9250.

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