Harns Marsh teacher speaks out after reporting student for planning a school shooting

Posted at 12:18 AM, Sep 15, 2021

LEHIGH ACRES — We’re learning new details about the day two students were reported for planning a shooting at Harns Marsh Middle School.

The school Testing Coordinator says she overheard one of the boys discussing that plan in class, and the incident report from the Sheriff’s Office shows just how detailed that plan really was.

Laura Davis said the student was actually joking with other kids about planning a school shooting at Harns Marsh, but she said, when another student came up to her and told her that boy might have a gun in his backpack, she knew she had to act.

Davis was only filling in last week for another teacher, but when she heard there was a potential danger, her instincts kicked in.

"You just quietly make a phone call while the kids are busy and not disturb anything, and the kids don’t know anything that’s going on. I didn’t say on the phone what it was. I didn’t want anyone to overhear me, I just said could you please send somebody as soon as possible over to this classroom," said Davis.

According to the incident report from the Lee County Sheriff’s Office, a member of the school's administration and a school resource deputy immediately responded and removed the student. In his backpack “a map of the school was discovered with red and blue dots showing the location of each of the school’s interior cameras.”

Deputies later searched the student’s house, where more evidence was discovered that he was planning a shooting. Davis said it would have been easy to just write the student’s comments off, if it hadn’t been for training that teachers receive from the Lee County Sheriff’s Office.

"The kid said it was a joke, everyone was laughing. One thing that stuck out in my mind from that training was, whether it’s a joke or not, you take it seriously and you report it to the authorities," said Davis.

This incident is the second scare Harns Marsh has had in the past two years. In December of 2019, a student brought a loaded handgun to school in his backpack.

On the School Safety Dashboard, run by Max Schachter who lost his son in the Parkland shooting, Harns Marsh is listed as a school with a high rate of violence.

But Schachter said that’s partly because the school has been reporting things when they happen.

"I want to thank the principal for reporting those incidents. We have seen cases in the past, and we know of ones currently where principals are under reporting incidents," said Schachter.

Schachter also thanked the principal in a tweet Friday for the school’s attention to safety and security. Davis said, this case should be a lesson to other teachers.

"We’ve learned here, I hope, that you take everything seriously," said Davis.

In the incident report from the Sheriff’s Office, it describes information they got from another student that the plan was so detailed it included a plan to set off "gas chambers" which were going to go off as distractions in the lunchroom before the boys entered the school with guns.

The two students accused of planning that shooting are now facing felony conspiracy charges.