8th-grader accused of bringing loaded gun to school has lengthy rap sheet



ORLANDO, Fla. - Channel 9 discovered a 14-year-old Orange County eighth-grader arrested for allegedly bringing a loaded gun to school this week also faced gun charges in past.

Da'Qwan Sholtz was arrested at Lee Middle School in College Park after officials said he brought a loaded .25 caliber handgun into the school on Tuesday.

Channel 9 learned Sholtz has multiple felony arrests on his record. The teen's rap sheet is five pages long and lists nine arrests that began just days after his 11th birthday.

Channel 9's Lori Brown asked Orange County Public Schools why Sholtz was still in the school system.

While administrators are not allowed to speak about the latest case, under Florida law, suspensions are up to a student's principal.

The district's policy said "felony suspension should be used only when the principal perceives a definite adverse impact on other students or on the accused student."

Stephen Dalsemer, the director of the Juvenile Assessment Center, said in Florida, the focus is shifting to treatment instead of punishment, which he admits is a delicate balancing act.

"Once you go down that road and once they're taken out of the home, the chances of helping them and them not going to the prison system is going to be greatly reduced," said Dalsemer.

The penalty for bringing a weapon to school is an automatic 10-day suspension and can be grounds for expulsion.

Sholtz's mother, Qwantesha Lewis, said she has no idea why her son would put so many other students in danger.

She also said he didn't get the gun from her home.

"He didn't get no gun from my house," said Lewis. "There wasn't nothing. I don't know where he get it from, but it was not my house."

Another student alerted school officials of the weapon, and a school resource officer found it in Sholtz's waistband during a pat down, authorities said.

"I'm positive he wouldn't have used it," said Lewis. "My heart dropped a hell of a lot. That's my child. That's my child. I'm just speechless right now. I don't know what to say. I love him regardless. I'm going to be right there by him."

On top of the weapons charge, Sholtz is also facing two probation violations.

His mother said he started getting into trouble after his father died of kidney failure two years ago.

"Him and his dad was close. That took a toll on him," said Lewis.

The judge ruled the boy to remain in custody until his trial in two weeks.

Following the massacre at Sandyhook Elementary School in Connecticut, Orange County school board chair Bill Sublette said the board would likely not consider something like metal detectors, because they don't want schools to feel like armed camps.

Sublette said the best defense is other students and parents.

After the Newtown shooting, the school board did ask staff to review the district's security measures. That report is expected to be completed later in February.