Arrest in front of school prompts debate over level of security - FOX 13 News

Arrest in front of school prompts debate over level of security

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The man walked down the sidewalk across from Sessums Elementary. A crossing guard noticed something he was carrying: it looked like a semi-automatic handgun.

And the man looked agitated.

The crossing guard immediately told two of the student safety patrols to go back to the school and tell the school's resource deputy.

He sprang into action, and some very tense moments followed.


The deputy was at the school as a result of the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary. Right after the tragedy, the Hillsborough Sheriff's Office and Tampa Police Department decided to staff schools with officers and deputies full time, until the school board could decide what to do long term.

But the question is, will this deputy be at the school next year? The school district is still debating whether to spend the money.

It's estimated that the cost will be $4 million next year to add full-time officers at all elementary schools in Hillsborough County.

"We are having ongoing conversations about that. It's a very expensive proposition," said Hillsborough Schools spokesman Steve Hegarty "I know the school board has some concerns about that. We're not through talking about it."


The man in front of Sessums did, indeed, have a gun, and the deputy said he made no attempt to hide it.

Dillon Conn appeared agitated, and was carrying the gun in a careless, threatening manner, according to the sheriff's office.

According to the police report, the deputy confronted Conn with his weapon drawn and told him to drop it.

Conn refused and screamed that the deputy would have to shoot him, because he was not going to drop the gun.

Eventually, Conn complied and dropped the firearm.

It turned out to be a BB gun; Conn was arrested and taken to jail.


Parents say they were glad the deputy was there.

Antoinette Genoese, who was picking up her two grandchildren, says she's grateful.

"We were lucky he was right here. It's scary, I mean even a BB gun is dangerous. It doesn't matter what kind of weapon, as long as it fires something it could hurt the kids, " Genoese said.

Corey Davis, a dad, is also glad nothing happened. But he has a different view of whether officers are a necessity at elementary schools.

"I think there's other things the officers need to take care of, in the area and district. A drive by is sufficient I believe, or in the mornings, a little check in here. But there's plenty of other things they can do besides having to stand guard," he said.

Jared Weems, whose son Austin goes to Sessums, says the money shouldn't be an issue.

"When it comes to lives, yes, it's absolutely worth it, anytime they want to invest money into security purposes. I'm in the military so I'm used to those costs."

The district will have to make a decision soon. It'll take time to hire and train all the security officers needed by next school year.

Erin Terrell says she will feel safe, no matter what the district decides.

"My kids have always been really safe here. I don't have any worries, so if there isn't a full time deputy, I know we'll still be safe. But I'm sure it would make everyone feel safer."

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