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"We stopped a school shooting" in Hendry County, says Superintendent

Deputies say a 10-year-old boy sold a gun to another boy at school, and the pair was arrested after ammunition was found in a backpack at Country Oaks Elementary School.
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Country Oaks Elementary School Exteriors Hendry County
Posted at 4:21 PM, Mar 28, 2024
and last updated 2024-03-28 18:16:05-04

LABELLE, Fla. — One day after ammunition was found in a 10-year-old’s backpack at Country Oaks Elementary School in Labelle, Hendry County Superintendent Michael Swindle believes lives were saved.

“We, very well, stopped a school shooting from happening at that elementary school,” Swindle told Fox 4 in an exclusive interview.

RELATED: Two 10-year-olds arrested in gun sale at LaBelle school, deputies say

Wednesday, the school briefly went on lockdown after officials learned of the ammunition in the child’s backpack.

Further investigation revealed the 10-year-old had earlier purchased a gun from another student.

TEAM COVERAGE: LaBelle parents claim "lack of information" during lockdown

Both 10-year-olds are now facing multiple gun charges.

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“It’s heartbreaking,” Swindle said. “We focus on education, but society has gotten us to a place where, we don’t know what led us to this in this child’s life, but this is a very sad situation.”

Swindle tells Fox 4 there have been previous behavioral issues with one or both boys in the past, but nothing to this extent.

He credits training teachers and staffers have undergone to their quick action on Wednesday.

“This new threat management model absolutely worked and helped us mitigate what could have been a horrific scene,” said Swindle.

The threat assessment model is part of a new statewide plan this school year.

It was created after the failures learned in the Parkland School shooting massacre.

“This goes back to parents at home have to have these conversations with children about what’s acceptable in society, what’s acceptable in school, what’s acceptable with how you talk and treat each other,” said Swindle.