News Cast 1/27

News Cast for January 27th:


Earlier this morning, the Okeechobee County Sheriff’s Office responded to the Osceola Middle School while going into complete lockdown after reports that a student had a firearm on campus.

Within one minute, the school was in lockdown, and numerous law enforcement from Okeechobee County Sheriff’s and Okeechobee City Police were on the scene to assist the on-site School Resource Deputy.

The subject was apprehended within the first four minutes after being identified, and the room he was in with other students was secured, searched, and cleared.

The students that reported the incident were questioned again on the initial contact with the student of interest.

Witnesses collectively stated the following;

The “student of interest,” a 14-year-old, told a student that he would bring a gun to school today.

Today, several students asked the suspect if he had brought the gun as the 14-year-old male wore an oversized “hoodie” sweater with a single large, double-hand pocket across the front. Students reported seeing what appeared to be the 14-year-old gripping something with the outline of a handgun.

When students asked the 14-year-old if he had a gun, the student gripped the object tightly, much like a handgun, and said, “Yes!”

These students immediately told staff about the incident, and the response from our agency and the Okeechobee City Police was swift and immediate.

During questioning, the 14-year-old suspect admitted to threatening a student yesterday about bringing a gun to school today.

The male suspect admitted that he told people today that he had a gun and intentionally made those around him believe the bottle he was gripping was a gun.

The object in the suspect’s pocket was located and was, in fact, a small Lipton Ice Tea Bottle (plastic).

Subsequently, the student is being charged with; Aggravated Assault, a felony, and Disruption of School Proceedings, a second-degree misdemeanor.

The suspect is being held for booking at the Okeechobee County Jail Facility.

Sheriff Noel E. Stephen stresses that the students did the right thing following the “See something, Say something.” initiative.

The response from the Osceola Middle School Staff, our School Resource Deputy, and all the other Okeechobee County Sheriff’s Office and City Police personnel that responded show a level of professionalism and level of training for these types of events that stands to speak for itself.

Student fights suspension

A senior at Okeechobee High school wants the code of student conduct changed.

Savannah Moreno was suspended for five days during spirit week for bringing pepper spray to school.

She had it on her key ring and started bringing it when a dog attacked her while walking to school.

She also takes college courses at Indian River State College and drives regularly to the Ft. Pierce campus at night and wanted some protection.

She did not display or threaten anyone with the pepper spray.

Her mother Wendy Moreno said her daughter has always followed the rules and should not have been suspended.

The family said they worry this suspension and mark on her record might impact her selection of a college.

The school board declined to expunge the students record at the advice of the attorney.

The board changed the wording of suspensions like this giving the principal more discretion.

They also expressed desire to schedule a workshop to review the codes.

Florida Power and Light continues to add facilities in Okeechobee.

In addition the Okeechobee Clean Energy Center, they also have three solar powered facilities, and a fourth one in the planning stages.

External affairs manager Ilan Kaufer spoke to the Okeechobee chamber of commerce.

He said the clean energy center is meeting expectations

“It is one of the cleanest facilities in our fleet and in the country and has been performing very well.”

The Okeechobee Utility Authority Board went on record to support the state giving a portion of the old Okeechobee school for boys property to Indian River State College.

The OUA leases part of the property for their waste water treatment plant.

Executive Director John Hayford supported asking the state to get that land.

“Why couldn’t our parcel, under a long term lease to us, go to the OUA, its not like we are going to take all our facilities and move once the lease runs out.”

Republican house members want to expand school choice.

Any K-12 student in the state could be eligible for state funded tuition at a private school regardless of their income.

Representative Kaylee Tuck sponsored the bill.  She said it is a great idea for students.

“Florida is committed, has been committed, and will always be committed to providing the best education possible.”

Opponents of the bill said it will take $4 billion out of public education in the next five years.